Dry needling is the use of fine needles to stimulate the repair of highly sensitive muscle or fascia fibers that are causing pain. Whether the result of sitting at a desk for too long, overuse or trauma from a sport or other activity, or from day-to-day stress, injury to muscle and connective tissue is the most common cause and contributor to pain. The needle gently stimulates the highly reactive fibers, or trigger points, along with surrounding tissue, often eliciting a “light twitch” (reflex) response and provoking the sensitive fibers to respond by protecting and repairing themselves.
Is dry needling safe? The technique of dry needling has been used for many decades (and acupuncture for over two millennia). Numerous large-scale safety studies—comprising over a million treatments in one study alone—have shown that adverse events are very rare, usually consisting of local soreness or swelling, and demonstrating conclusively the procedure’s safety.
Does it hurt? Dry needling involves the stimulation of sensitive muscle fibers, which can feel uncomfortable and may result in soreness for a day or more following the treatment.
What’s the difference between dry needling and acupuncture? While dry needling and acupuncture use the same implements—extremely fine needles—the development of dry needling was not influenced by acupuncture; the practices are independent of one another, employing different theories and techniques. In short, dry needling is focused on restoring healthy anatomy and physiology through stimulation of injured local muscle tissue, while acupuncture seeks to normalize the flow along meridians. Many locations for dry needling overlap with acupuncture points (while many do not), but the criteria that define point locations and the needle techniques are very different between the two practices. At SFIM, we are experts in both acupuncture and myofascial dry needling, and we are supportive of both practices, often combining them to maximum effect.
Traditional Chinese medicine has been used for thousands of year to treat pain conditions, both acute and chronic. It is both effective and safe to use as a stand-alone treatment for pain conditions as well as an adjunctive treatment to Western medical treatments and medications. Many times, herbal medicine is combined with acupuncture in the treatment of pain conditions.
Acupuncture and herbal medicine both help to reduce pain by enhancing circulation, reducing inflammation, relaxing muscles, increasing tissue healing, changing pain perception, and breaking up scar tissue.
Traditional Chinese medicine is a holistic medical system which encourages the body to promote its own natural healing and improve overall function. Acupuncture is a safe, effective procedure for eliminating or reducing pain.
When should someone seek an acupuncturist for pain?
To reduce or eliminate pain and increase range of motion
Help speed recovery after surgery
Reduce dependency on pain medications
Manage chronic pain
What are some common pain conditions that are effectively treated with traditional Chinese medicine?
Back pain (including neck, mid, and low back)
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Degenerative Disc Disease
Headaches and migraines
Neck and shoulder pain
Repetitive Strain Injuries
Acupuncture frequency varies with pain conditions. For acute conditions, we recommend acupuncture twice weekly. For more chronic and long-standing issues, acupuncture frequency is usually once weekly. For acute conditions, 4-10 treatments may be needed. For chronic issues, treatment can last for 1-2 months up to a year, depending on the severity of the issue.