If you are suffering from chronic pain (or pain in general) there is a new technique that will significantly decrease your pain and help improve your function. The technique is called Trigger Point Dry Needling.
When I say "new" I mean new to the area not new in theory. Dry Needling has been around for many, many years. The RI Board of Physical Therapy recently ruled that the technique is within the scope of practice for Licensed Physical Therapists in the State of RI. That is just a bunch of legal talk for "PTs can legally perform Dry Needling and get paid for it."
So what is it? Therapists place fine filament needles (not injection needles) into trigger points in the muscles of the body. Trigger points are more commonly known as muscle knots. Trigger points will do a couple of things to cause pain.
Trigger points will effectively shorten the muscle. This can pull on the tendons (which can cause tendinitis) and will limit normal body motions. The limit in body motion causes compensations which will put stress on other joints and cause pain. Running is a good example. If you dont have adequate hip extension then you will get excessive arching of your low back. This then leads to pain in your low back.
The trigger points themselves have referral patterns for pain as well. Do you ever get a headache that starts at the base of your skull and travels up to your eyeball like a rams horn? That is a common referral pattern for your upper traps (the muscles that run from your neck to the top of your shoulder). Most people are stressed and sit in really poor posture throughout the day. (I'm doing it right now writing the post on my laptop.) This leads to trigger point formation in your upper traps which then leads to the headaches. Trigger points can form in every muscle throughout the body. They all have their own referral pattern, some covering larger areas than others.
So how does Trigger Point Dry Needling work? When the needle is introduced into the trigger point it causes a "twitch response" in the muscle. This response causes a reset in the muscle and helps it to return to its resting length. This then takes pressure off the joints/muscles and helps relieve the referral pain pattern. Following a session you should notice improved motion and less pain.
Now before I start sounding too "markety" (it's a new word, just added to Websters), I want you all to know I believe in this treatment because I have gone through it myself. I have chronic neck issues and frequently wake up with a locked neck. It is HORRIBLE and completely debilitating, especially for a Physical Therapist.
A while back I was at a conference and sleeping in a hotel bed. I woke up one morning and could not turn my neck to the right – not to mention the blistering pain that I had traveling down my spine and up into my head. One of the other therapists at the conference was certified in dry needling and offered his services. I will admit I was skeptical. I'm not a huge fan of needles to begin with but figured that pain couldn't be worse than what I was already dealing with. Man am I happy that he was there. After one treatment I could fully turn my neck and had zero pain. It was like Jesus came down and touched my neck. Right then I knew this was something that I needed to learn and have been certified since February 2011.
I will say that it is not for everyone. If you are extremely afraid of needles then this probably isn't for you. I will also say this though, it is the most powerful and amazing treatment that I have ever used with my patients. I have had people walk into my office suffering from 30 years of back pain and walk out feeling 50+ percent better. If you have an injury that isnt improving or are one of the millions of Americans that are suffering from back pain I would give it a try. I'm happy that I did and really enjoy bringing that relief to others. If you have any questions please contact me. Thank you for reading.
"Live Pain Free"