Dry Needling in the Physical Therapy Setting

Dry Needling in the Physical Therapy Setting

McKinley Barron

     Physical Therapy has transformed a lot over the past decade. There are many different techniques used. Due to technology, different tools and machines have helped patients recover faster. One new and growing technique is dry needling. This is where very small needles with lengths of 30-70mm are placed in trigger points in your body. Therapists place it where you might have pain or discomfort. After patients get used to the needle, some injuries require electrodes. These electrodes are hooked up to the needle and make the muscle twitch or spasm. This is a beneficial technique that more therapists are starting to use. 


     Dry needling is used to hit myofascial trigger points. Sometimes when the therapist first puts the needle in, the muscle will twitch if the trigger point is hit. This is a good sign, as the therapist knows they hit the right spot. The size of the needle depends on the site they are needling. For instance, the needle going into the foot will be much smaller than the needle going into the calf. First, the therapist will clean the site. Then they will feel around to find a point. Then the therapist will put the needle into the skin and tap it to puncture it. The therapist will then push the needle into the skin until it hits the bone or the needle does not go any farther. This surprisingly does not hurt as bad as it sounds. It might be uncomfortable at some points but most patients say the relief they get after is worth it. 


     Even though a lot of physical therapists dry needle, some do not. Becoming a physical therapist does not certify you to be able to dry needle. You have to go to a shot course to be certified. It does not take that long as most people are expected to know most things as they are physical therapists. This does not mean you will make more money, it just provides you with more services to be able to provide for your patients. One benefit that getting needled can do is get rid of your migraine or headache. A lot of patients come in when they have these issues. The therapist will put needles in their neck. Most patients say it gives them instant relief. However, there are restrictions to being needled. For instance, if you or pregnant, afraid of needles, recently had surgery, or are on blood thinners it is advised not to partake in it. 


     In conclusion, dry needling is a technique that is becoming widely used in the physical therapy setting. It has proven to be very successful for multiple types of pain. Not only does it treat muscle pain but can also help with headaches. In the future, most therapists might use this technique. It can heal a lot of pain without having to do all of the normal exercises. The growth of dry needling will be exponential in the next few years.