In August of 2018, a new law became effective that approved physical therapists to practice functional dry needling, which is a therapy that is used to treat musculoskeletal conditions. As a result, many physical therapists are now offering this practice as a natural way to relieve pain that is associated with musculoskeletal problems. Some individuals who seek this type of treatment have done research on the practice or have heard about its benefits from individuals who have had the treatment. Because the practice is a newer way to treat muscle conditions, many individuals are not aware of functional dry needling but are open to alternative treatments to manage pain and speed the healing process. With the new law, many physical therapists are expected to receive their certification for functional dry needling within the next year. The effectiveness of the practice is promising. Some studies have shown that functional dry needling is just as effective as cortisone injections.
The technique works by treating muscular tension and spasms that are caused by myfascial trigger points. These are knots in the taut bands of the impaired muscles that cause intense pain. When an injury occurs because of acute trauma or repetitive use, the damaged tissues will become inflamed. This inflammation can produce a protective tension state or contracture, which will protect the muscle against further damage to the nerves. Functional dry needling can identify the cause of pain and uses thin, solid filament needles to stimulate the neural, connective, and muscular tissues beneath the skin.
The research on functional dry needling shows that the precise insertion of the needles will spark a quick muscle twitch that stimulates the body’s natural healing process. As a result, there will be an increase in oxygen and blood flow, reduced chemical reaction, enhanced flexibility, less pain and dysfunction, and decreased muscle contraction. Many individuals choose to have dry functional needling administered to help speed recovery after a surgery. The treatment creates a process that restarts the muscle and decreases pain that is related to injuries that are caused by joint, nerve, and vascular tissue compression. Dry functional needling uses a technique that is an extension of hands-on physical therapy to reduce muscle dysfunction. The treatment is most effective when the muscle is retrained through motor control training and exercise.
One of the primary differences between functional dry needling and other acupuncture treatments is that dry needling does not alter the flow of energy. Functional dry needling doesn’t incorporate traditional Chinese practices and is based on modern interventions that are based off scientific evidence to treat musculoskeletal issues. Furthermore, traditional acupuncture involves the insertion of dozen of needles into different areas of the body. With dry needling, only a few needles are used and strategically placed in the targeted muscles. Another difference between between acupuncture and functional dry needling is that it is not thought of as a curative treatment. Functional dry needling is often part of a comprehensive physical therapy plan that also includes targeted exercises, movement analysis, and other treatment interventions to restore muscles to a healthy state.
Many individuals who are considering functional dry needling will want to know its side effects before they undergo treatment. Immediately following the treatment, there may be soreness in the area of the body that was treated. Any soreness after functional dry needling can be alleviated with ice or heat, and it can also be helpful to perform stretches to the muscle that was treated.
Most physical therapists incorporate dry needling as part of a larger treatment plan. The goal of functional dry needling in physical therapy is to release trigger points that can improve range of motion and relive pain. Functional dry needling can be extremely specific to tissues. It uses an approach that is more targeted than palpation, joint manipulation, and superficial soft tissue strategies. It doesn’t only work on the local tissue that is being treated, but functional dry needling also works on neuromuscular facilitation and inhabitation. Functional dry needling can be used to treat a broad range of conditions that include:
Headaches Hip/knee pain Golfer’s elbow Acute/chronic injuries Muscle strains Tendonitis
When individuals suffer from an injury, recovery is often long and difficult. Functional dry needling can help individuals who are injured regain full strength faster than other methods. Many individuals choose to have functional dry needling because it yields a fast recovery time by encouraging the body to heal itself without medical injections, such as cortisone shots.