How Dry Needling Can Help Relieve Pain

Many people suffer from sensitive spots in muscle known as “trigger points.” A trigger point is a small area of tightly contracted muscle that can cause a knot. The knot is an isolated spasm affecting just a tiny patch of muscle tissue (not a whole-muscle spasm like a “charlie horse”). This knot can be tender to the touch, and may also cause pain in other parts of the body (known as referred pain). For example, a trigger point located in the shoulder can cause pain that radiates up the back of the head and causes headaches. People who suffer with trigger point pain often describe it as a deep ache that just doesn’t seem to ever go away. In theory, that small patch of muscle chokes off its own blood supply, which causes even more irritation and can lead to an aggravating pain that limits one’s ability to perform normal daily tasks without significant pain.

In the past, common treatments for pain caused by trigger points included medication and steroids. While these treatments could be effective, they also involve all of the risks associated with strong medications. It is also excessive, as trigger points can be treated with less aggressive measures. Massage and ultrasound are also common methods used to treat trigger points, but the effectiveness of these treatments are based heavily on the skill and knowledge of the provider

As our understanding of how trigger points work has increased, new therapies have been developed. A relatively newer treatment for trigger point pain is called Dry Needling. Regina McPhearson at DeSoto Physical Therapy explained what this process involves: “Dry Needling describes the process of inserting a needle into a trigger point without actually injecting any type of medication. The simple act of manually stimulating a trigger point can help to promote the healing process, and it is also quite effective at helping to reduce pain and discomfort.” The insertion of the needle into the spasmed muscle fiber causes a twitch response, causing the muscle to “reset” and relax. This reduction in tension frequently leads to very significant and immediate reduction in pain.

Doug James of DeSoto Physical Therapy says “We’ve seen patients in the clinic who have been suffering for years from pain caused by active trigger points. After a few treatments of Trigger Point Dry Needling along with corrective activities to prevent re-injury, they leave with little to no pain in the affected area. It has truly been a life-changing treatment for many of our patients.” Glenn Bagley of Mansfield said that he had been having pain in his back and right leg for over 6 months. He tried medications and stretching, but with no relief. “The pain had gotten so bad that I had to sleep in a recliner, because I couldn’t straighten my back out.” He began Trigger Point Dry Needling treatment at DeSoto Physical Therapy in Stonewall, and began feeling an immediate improvement. “After a few weeks of treatment, I have been able to go back to my normal exercises and can sleep throughout the night without pain. My back feels great and I don’t have the pain or numbness in my leg anymore.

Ask Alisha Timon of Stonewall what “Dry Needling” means to her, and there are no questions. “I thought I was going to have to have rotator cuff repair surgery. It hurt so badly. I couldn’t do much of anything without it hurting. Before this treatment, I seriously thought I was going to have to have rotator cuff repair surgery. I only had one treatment at Desoto PT, and it didn’t even hurt! I am currently swinging my arm around trying to make the pain happen and I CANT! I’m truly amazed. Seriously unbelievable!”

While Trigger Point Dry Needling is not a “cure-all” for all causes of pain, it can be effective at reducing pain caused by overactive muscles and inflammation. Dry Needling can be used to treat many area of the body, including neck and back pain, shoulder pain, hip and leg pain, and even hand and/or foot pain. If you have been suffering pain and want to avoid taking medications and steroid injections, consider giving Trigger Point Dry Needling a try. The good news is, you can now receive this affective treatment close to home in Stonewall. To get more information on the treatment or to schedule an appointment, call DeSoto Physical Therapy at 775-9870, or email