When it comes to planning an effective physical therapy regimen for your patient, you might be wondering if dry needling would be a beneficial treatment option. These are some important points to consider.
What is Dry Needling?
According to the American Physical Therapy Association: Dry needling is a skilled intervention that uses a thin filiform needle to penetrate the skin and stimulate underlying myofascial trigger points, muscular, and connective tissues for the management of neuromusculoskeletal pain and movement impairments. Dry needling is a technique used to treat dysfunctions in skeletal muscle, fascia, and connective tissue, and, diminish persistent peripheral nociceptive input, and reduce or restore impairments of body structure and function leading to improved activity and participation.
Dry Needling vs. Acupuncture
To a patient, dry needling may seem synonymous with acupuncture. Though the needles used in both practices are identical, the patient diagnosis and goals of therapy differ. Physical therapists extensively study human anatomy and physiology. They incorporate dry needling into a comprehensive treatment program which often includes rehabilitative exercises. Conversely, acupuncture has roots in traditional Chinese medicine. A system of philosophies and beliefs guide acupuncturists, who seek to balance the body's energies through acupressure points, which rarely coincide with trigger points targeted in dry needling therapy.
Benefits of Dry Needling
As dry needling gains prevalence among physical therapists, distinct methods have been developed for diagnosis and treatment. Dry needling desensitizes painful areas, increases range of motion, and ultimately promotes tissue health and repair. Patients with a variety of conditions from sports injuries to chronic back pain to Multiple Sclerosis could receive rapid relief with dry needling.
Though dry needling has been a common tool in the physical therapy arsenal for decades, the method has only recently become an accepted practice in most states. The benefits have been well-documented in preliminary studies, but more comprehensive research must be done to prove its effectiveness across applications. As medical professionals explore and refine Dry Needling techniques, they could pave the way for further advancements in the physical therapy field.
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