You want to poke me with WHAT?!
Dry Needling, the point of it all. (heh…..see what I did there…?)
Dry Needling? What even is that?! Dry needling is often confused with acupuncture and it is understandable why, when the approach appears rather similar. Acupuncture is based on “Chi” or energy flow and uses the meridians of the body to fix certain ailments. Multiple needles are placed along/around meridians and left in for 45mins or so. Physio’s don’t tend to use this practice as it isn’t strongly backed with evidence yet. Dry Needling uses a musculoskeletal model whereby needles are inserted into muscles, soft tissue and even ligaments/bone to speed up healing, release tight areas and encourage blood flow to the area. These needles need only stay in for 3-5seconds. Dry Needling is what your physio does.
So when is your physio likely to use Dry Needling over massage? Well, if your physio is qualified at needling, we are likely to want to use it for pretty much everything as:
1) It can work incredibly well and quickly
2) It saves our thumbs!
3) It is often rather uncomfortable for clients and most physios tend to have a perverse addiction to inflicting pain upon clients. Go figure. (I’m kind of kidding on this point. Also kind of not.)
Dry needling works particularly well on stubborn knots (or trigger points), releasing them in one go which is often far less painful than having a full session of your physio sticking their thumbs into your shoulder.
So hang on, how come my physio has never needled me before? Well, either your physio doesn’t dry needle or, just as likely, they have pegged you as someone who won’t respond well to needling. If you have multiple latent (old) knots in your shoulder, sometimes needling just won’t do much. If you are nervous about the idea of needling, your physio may decide not to bother as it’s more likely to just tighten you up as you tense through the process. If you have come in with a spasmy muscle, attempting to needle can make it worse. So it does depend a lot on the type of presentation, the person and the physio themselves.
What should I expect from needling?
Dry needling isn’t the most comfortable of treatment modalities. Some people don’t mind it at all, a lot of people find it ‘weird’. It can be a rather uncomfortable and unusual sensation.
You may feel some twitches during needling, which is very normal and can be quite a shock, but I’m sure you’ll see your physio’s grin grow exponentially when you do twitch. (it’s incredibly satisfying). No, you don’t have to ‘twitch’ every time you get needled, not all parts of the body respond the same way and not all people respond the same way.
You are likely to be a bit achy after the session and may feel like you have a dead leg (if that’s where you were needled) or a heavy limb post treatment. Some people can feel like they’ve been hit by a bus and need to go home and chill out for the rest of the day. I usually recommend an evening session if you’ve never been needled before.
More often than not, you will notice the effect of needling after you have slept – commonly, the following morning.
Drinking lots of water, using heat and avoiding heavy exercise the day of needling can help settle down any discomfort. Be careful of training too hard the day of needling as it can end up having an opposite affect and tightening everything up even more. I would usually recommend getting needled 1-2days prior to any sporting events you may have.
I hope that helps you understand dry needling a bit more. Still not sure? Don’t be shy – CALL US! Our friendly physios and admin are always MORE than happy to chat to you on the phone to help you figure out what might work best for your current presentation.
Do you have a niggling ache or pain? Book in to see one of our physio's today - book online here or call us on (08) 9448 2994!