Dry Needling

Dry Needling Physical Therapy in Wasilla, Alaska

Dry Needling is an effective treatment technique for soft-tissue dysfunction and pain-related conditions. Dry Needling utilizes sterile, solid filament needles to improve local tissue nutrition near the site of muscle or nerve injury. It can also be used to deactivate and desensitize trigger points in muscles. Myofascial trigger points are knots in muscles that can contribute to pain, decreased flexibility and decreased muscle function. Dry Needling in physical therapy allows the physical therapist to efficiently treat dysfunctions throughout a chain of muscles causing a painful condition. Dry Needling is a vital component of stimulating healing and muscle repair in conjunction with other manual therapy techniques and exercise. Northern Edge Physical Therapy is the leading therapy center offering dry needling in Wasilla, Alaska.

Is Dry Needling similar to Acupuncture?

The only similarity to acupuncture is the use of an acupuncture needle. Dry Needling actually started with use of a hypodermic needle, except there was no infiltration or injection, hence the name dry needle. Traditional Acupuncture aims to promote health and restore “energetic balance” by stimulating certain acupuncture points found along certain meridians throughout the body. Acupuncture is one aspect of Traditional Chinese Medicine approach which includes diagnosis and clinical reasoning using various Chinese medicine assessment methods. Western or Medical Acupuncture also aims to stimulate acupuncture points along meridians, but applies it to western medical reasoning. Dry Needling is a therapeutic intervention based on anatomy and neurophysiology with strong scientific evidence supporting its effectiveness. The primary aim of Dry Needling is to needle altered or dysfunctional tissues in order to improve or restore function and facilitate healing.

How does Dry Needling work?

The exact mechanisms of Dry Needling are a point of on-going discovery. Dr. Janet Travell first described trigger point injections in the early 1940s. Injections were performed by injecting trigger points primarily with analgesics. Over the years it has been shown that it is not the substance that is being injected that is providing the long-term therapeutic benefit, but rather the mechanical stimulus of the needle itself. When a needle tip hits a trigger point, a characteristic ‘local twitch’ in the muscle is noted by the clinician and the client. This local twitch is involuntary. It has been shown that the elicitation of local twitch responses is the most important aspect in obtaining a successful therapeutic outcome for trigger point deactivation. There are a number of hypotheses as to the reasons why dry needling works. Dry needling and the subsequent local twitch responses may mechanically disrupt the contracted nature of the trigger point. Dry needling stimulates certain neurological sensors in the body which modulate pain signals. Dry needling and the subsequent local twitch responses can cause positive local biochemical changes and result in an increase of blood flow which enhances local tissue nutrition to enhance healing.

What type of problems can be treated?

Muscle dysfunction can be the primary or secondary contributing factor to many neuromusculoskeletal conditions. Such conditions would include repetitive stress injuries, muscle tendonitis, neck pain, headaches, knee osteoarthritis, rotator cuff impingement, frozen shoulder, carpal tunnel syndrome, sacroiliac joint dysfunction, sciatica, muscle strains, iliotibial band syndrome, patellofemoral dysfunction, and plantar fasciitis.

Is the procedure painful?

Most people do not feel the insertion of the needle. The local twitch response elicits a very brief cramping and/or deep aching sensation. Dry Needling may reproduce symptoms directly in the muscle being treated or may refer to other areas of the body. This is a form of referred pain, which is one of the hallmarks of trigger points. Elicitation of local twitch responses and recognizable referred pain is a good and desirable reaction because it confirms a possible source of dysfunction.

Are the needles sterile?

Yes, we only use the highest quality sterile disposable needles.

How long does it take for the procedure to work?

In some cases, decreased pain and improved mobility is immediate. Typically, it may take a few treatment sessions for a lasting positive effect. Again we are trying to cause mechanical, biochemical and neurological changes without any pharmacological means. Therefore, we are looking for a cumulative response to deactivate trigger points, disrupt pain and to restore optimal muscle function.

How do I know if I am a candidate?

Contact us to schedule an appointment to determine if Dry Needling would be an appropriate treatment for your injury or condition. In the State of Alaska, you may see a physical therapist without obtaining a prescription, with the exception of Medicare insurance.

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