Iowa Specialty Hospital

Rehabilitation & Therapy: Integrative Dry Needling

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Integrative Dry Needling is a highly effective form of physical therapy for the treatment of a multitude of musculoskeletal and neuromuscular conditions. It is not appropriate for all conditions or pathologies and the use of the techniques will be at the discretion of your physical therapist.
 

Dry Needling on BackHow does it work?  Integrative dry needling is not acupuncture (traditional Chinese medicine), It is based on neuro­anatomy and modern scientific study of the musculoskeletal and neuromuscular systems. A very fine filament needle is inserted through the skin and into the deeper tissues that are considered trigger points to your pain. Dry needling works by causing a micro lesion within the pathological tissue thus breaking up shortened tissues, inhibiting a reflex arc from the nervous system to the tissue, normalizing the inflammatory response, and centrally mediating the pain. This mechanical and neuromuscular effect provides an environment that enhances the body's ability to heal which ultimately reduces pain.
 

What conditions can be treated?  Conditions include, but are not limited to: neck, back and shoulder pain, arm pain (tennis elbow, carpal tunnel, golfer's elbow), headache to include migraines and tension-type headaches, jaw pain, buttock pain and leg pain (sciatica, hamstrings strains, calf tightness/spams).
 

Are the needles sterile?  Yes, only sterile disposable needles are used.
 

Is the procedure painful?  The fine filament needle is very thin, solid, and flexible, which allows for the needle to be pushed through the skin versus cutting the skin. This helps reduce any discomfort that may occur with the procedure. We strive to make the treatment virtually painless, however at times a local twitch response of the muscle may be felt. When the needle is inserted into the pathological tissue the local twitch response sensation is normal and is felt only momentarily. Many patients describe this twitch response as a little electric shock, cramp, or an ache sensation. These sensations are perfectly normal and even a desirable response. Your physical therapist will make every effort to make your experience comfortable and therapeutic.
 

How will I feel after the dry needling treatment?  This will vary but many patients experience immediate relief of their symptoms and an increase in range of motion. Soreness can also be a common response from the needling, but does not occur with all people. Some individuals may experience an immediate achiness or a delayed soreness the next day. The soreness, if present, will usually last 1-2 days. Use of heat and light massage and movement will be beneficial. Mild bruising may also occur, but is rare. Application of ice on the bruise will help with the soreness and the skin discoloration will last several days but is not harmful.

It is uncommon, but possible, that the treatment may temporarily increase your symptoms. If this continues past the 1-2 day window, inform your physical therapist to allow adjustment of your program to enhance your comfort the next time. This does not mean that needling will not be beneficial to your condition.
 

Will I continue to do exercises or receive other treatments?  Yes, your personalized physical therapy program will still integrate traditional physical therapy methods including manual therapy, therapeutic exercise, endurance training, stabilization, and posture training.
 

How many treatments will I need?  This will depend on the category you fit in which is determined by the state of the injury and your overall health. Remember we are attempting to cause mechanical and biochemical changes without any pharmacological means. Therefore, we are looking for a cumulative response to break the pain cycle. Your physical therapist will be able to give you more insight after your evaluation.
 

What should I do to prepare for the treatment?

  • Do not eat 30 minutes before treatment
  • Be well hydrated but empty your bladder prior to treatment
  • Wear loose fitting clothing, shorts, or bathing suit for easy access to your painful areas
     

What can I do after treatment and what should I avoid?

Our recommendations vary depending on the amount of soreness you have and on the individual response to the treatment. Recommendations may include increasing your water intake, applying heat or ice over the area, gentle stretches, and modifications of activities.
 

Who will provide the dry needling treatments?  A physical therapy professional must receive advancing training in order to perform the integrative dry needling treatment technique. Certification is received through the integrative Dry Needling institute.
 

Is dry needling treatment covered by my insurance?  Please visit with the physical therapy department prior to treatment for cost and insurance coverage.

 

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