What is Dry Needling?
Dry Needling or Intramuscular Stimulation (IMS) is an effective treatment for chronic nerve pain. This technique is also unequaled for finding and diagnosing muscle shortening in deep muscles.
Dry Needling is used to treat chronic neuropathic pain. Your Therapist will insert an Acupuncture needle using a plunger into the tightened muscle. It will often result in a muscle twitch and the relaxation and lengthening of the chronically tight/shortened muscle.
The Acupuncture needle used is very thin (much thinner than the hollow needle used to inject medicine or take blood samples). You may not even feel it penetrating the skin, and if your muscle is normal, the needle is painless. However, if your muscle is supersensitive and shortened, you’ll feel a peculiar sensation like a muscle cramp or charley horse. This is a distinctive type of discomfort caused by the muscle grasping the needle. Patients soon learn to recognize and welcome this sensation. They call it a good or positive pain because it soon disappears and is followed by a wonderful feeling of relief and relaxation. The needle may still be in you, but because the muscle is no longer tight, you no longer feel it. What’s happened is that the needling has caused your abnormal muscle shortening to intensify and then release. It’s important that you experience this sensation in order to gain lasting relief.
Needling stimulates a certain amount of healing, until eventually, the condition is healed and the pain disappears. Some patients treated with Dry Needling have remained pain free for over 20 years.
Frequency of Treatments
Physiotherapy treatments involving Dry Needling are usually done once a week (but can be spread out to 2 weeks) to allow time between treatments for the body to heal itself. The number of treatments you require will depend on several factors such as the duration and extent of your condition, how much scar tissue there is (usually increased after previous surgery) and how quickly your body can heal. The rate of healing depends on the condition of your nerves. If the pain is of recent origin, one treatment may be all that’s necessary. On average, most people require between 8 and 10 treatments.
“The Shortened Muscle Syndrome”
An important factor in neuropathic pain is muscle shortening, caused by muscle spasm and contracture. Muscle shortening produces pain by pulling on tendons, straining them as well as distressing the joints they move. Muscle shortening also increases wear and tear and contributes to degenerative changes such as tendinitis and osteoarthritis. These conditions are customarily regarded as “local” conditions and may not receive the appropriate diagnosis or the most effective Physiotherapy treatment.
Involvement of the Spine
The most common cause of nerve irritation and neuropathic pain is degeneration in the spine, which can be the result of normal wear and tear.