At the most basic level, dry needling refers to needling techniques that do not involve the injection of a substance (saline, anaesthetic) with a hyperdermic syringe into anatomical structures. Instead, filament needles, as used in acupuncture, are utilised to stimulate target tissues to illicit a therapeutic effect such as decreasing pain or improving movement.
Commonly, dry needling as used by physiotherapists is reliant on the needling of trigger points in order to deactivate them. This technique can be quite uncomfortable for the patient and results can be unreliable.
At Inspired Physiotherapy, all of our physiotherapists are trained in the Integrated Dry Needling approach, as taught by Andrew Hutton. This dry needling approach focuses on identifying functional restriction and the musculoskeletal ‘tricks’ your body uses to compensate for these restrictions, as well as identifying tissue changes that impede normal movement. Once these are identified, a variety of dry needling techniques are used to effect change in the structures and tissues.
The Integrated dry needling approach offers many benefits over trigger point techniques:
- A variety of needling approaches for different tissues and structure
- Avoidance of illiciting painful twitch responses
- A focus on functional movement change and improving tissue quality throughout the whole kinetic change, not simply at the site of pain
So, why do physiotherapists use dry needling? Why not simply use manual therapy and exercises?
Dry needling allows us to effect greater change in a shorter time period, with minimal discomfort. We can, of course, release tissue using our hands… but a 100kg elbow to the thigh is going to feel a lot worse than a couple of needles! Of course, manual therapy and exercises have their place and are often part of a treatment session or plan. However dry needling is increasingly becoming a mainstay of physiotherapy practice due to its ability to quickly effect a neurophysiological change.
If you have any questions or would like to see if dry needling can help you, please give us a call at (02) 9686 8825.