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Have You Heard Of Dry Needling?

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Similar in Some Ways to Acupuncture, This Alternative Therapy Can Help Ease Pain

Have you heard of dry needling therapy? It has some things in common with acupuncture, but at the same time it is a therapy all its own. Seems that some NFL teams are using it for help with pain relief (read on).

I was reading earlier today about a lady who sought help for muscle spasms in her neck and shoulders. Things like patches, muscle relaxers, and opiates seemed to help temporarily but there were always new spasms. In her case, it was hard to pin down exactly what triggered these spasms.

She did find some relief with dry needling, and described it as a procedure where she lays on a table as a physical therapy doctor performs the procedure. The doctor inserts a thin needle directly into a muscle that is tight or experiencing a spasm. The needle is then jiggled up and down in order to stimulate a twitch from the muscle. The twitch, in theory, disrupts a “neurological feedback loop” that is keeping the muscle contracted in a painful state. This action results in a release of pressure, and some relief.

She describes the dry needling as “extremely painful” while being performed (unlike the usual experience with acupuncture). Also unlike acupuncture, dry needling is not inserted into specific pathways or channels, but rather directly into the muscles that are causing the pain. It seems quite interesting, albeit quite a painful procedure for some.

Here is an excerpt from an article in Prevention Magazine about dry needling. Please share if you find this interesting.

Move over, acupuncture; there’s a new Far East favorite in town: dry needling. Similar to acupuncture, dry needling involves inserting thin needles into trigger points, or hyper-irritated muscle tissue, says Paul Mosier, a licensed acupuncturist and practitioner at the Acupuncture & Everything Wellness clinic in Amherst, NH. “The therapy is designed to release trigger points by engaging and twisting the muscle fibers with the needle.”If that sounds unpleasant, it (briefly) is. “A muscle can often be sore and slightly weakened after dry needling is done,” says Mosier, “but the patient will see benefits in range of motion and joint use right away.” In fact, dry needling has been so effective in pain relief, that it’s now a go-to method for five NFL football teams, including the Washington Redskins.

So what’s the difference between dry needling and acupuncture? “The philosophy itself,” says Neil Kirschen, MD, a licensed acupuncturist and the chief of pain management at South Nassau Communities Hospital in Oceanside, New York. Unlike acupuncture, the results of dry needling are not based on the flow of chi or traditional Chinese medicine – it’s far easier for the average therapist to use dry needling techniques because they really just need a knowledge of musculoskeletal medicine, he says.

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