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What is Dry Needling?



For most of us, the thought of voluntarily getting poked by needles isn’t high on our to-do list. But did you know that dry needling is a safe and effective way to relieve pain, tightness, and pressure in your muscles and joints? The process involves empty or “dry” needles injected into various muscle and trigger points to aid you in your physical therapy journey. The process might sound intimidating, but the results are worth it and can actually speed up the healing process when used with other physical therapy techniques. Want to know more about the process and see if it’s right for you?


The Process

Dry needling is just one step in the entire physical therapy process. It’s not typically the only treatment used and will often be combined with other types of therapy. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t effective! We use needling as a tool to aid in reducing pain all over your body. After your assessment with Dr. Yoder, he’ll identify areas on your body that could benefit from this type of therapy. We use filiform needles, which are thin stainless steel needles that don’t contain any liquid.


Once we identify which areas to focus on, Dr. Yoder inserts the sterile needles directly into the muscle or trigger point. This causes a small abrasion in the muscle that increases blood flow to the area, promoting faster healing while releasing tension in your neck, back, shoulders, and most other areas of the body. The needle stimulates the nerve or muscle, releasing all that tension and tightness. The amount of time we leave the needles in depends on the severity of the issue and the location.


Benefits of Dry Needling

Now that you know what needling is let’s talk about the benefits. When done by a certified professional in addition to physical therapy, needling can speed up the process of healing. The practice is designed to treat a wide range of issues caused by:

  • Injury

  • Medical Conditions

  • Poor Posture

  • Repeated Movements

  • Stress

We’ve all experienced one or more of the above. However, pain, tension points, and tight muscles don’t get better on their own. That's where a physical therapist comes in! Your therapist can identify the root cause so you can start reaping the benefits.


Reduces Pain

Needling will speed up recovery by reducing pain in the treated area. Increased blood flow speeds up the healing process in knotted and tight muscle groups to loosen the tension and decrease pain.


Increases Flexibility

Pain and muscle tension cause low levels of flexibility, which in turn only makes the problem worse. Releasing a trigger point or tight muscle allows your muscles to move freely.


Improves Range of Motion

If pain or a previous injury are impacting your range of motion, dry needling can help by accelerating healing.


Common Questions

As one of the few certified dry needling specialists in the area, we at Yoder Physical Therapy get questions every day about the process. As with any other type of physical therapy, we want to make you as comfortable and informed as possible before starting the process.


How is it different from acupuncture?

Is there really a difference between dry needling and acupuncture? Absolutely! While acupuncture is based in Chinese medicine, dry needling is a Western-based practice with a focus on releasing muscle tension and repairing muscle tension and tightness. Both involve needles, but have different philosophies, goals, and results.


Does it hurt?

Of course, everyone has a different tolerance to pain. However, the needling technique can range from slight discomfort to completely painless. Your physical therapist will assess your concerns so that you know what to expect, but the answer is that it doesn’t hurt as much as you’d think. A trained and certified physical therapist is the only person who should perform this type of therapy to reduce risks and boost results.


How soon can I expect results?

Again, this entirely depends on the person. You can typically feel a measured decrease in pain and tightness within 24 hours, with faster results after a few sessions. Your physical therapist will note your progress to make sure you’re getting the desired results.


What are the side effects?

Side effects are minor, including bleeding at the injection site, bruising, and soreness. Any side effects are short-lived and will go away on their own with no lasting effects.


As a certified specialist, Dr. Brent Yoder will provide an individual assessment to determine if dry needling is right for you. From there, we’ll work together to make a plan and give you the best experience and results possible. Working with a certified and trained physical therapist is the only way to get safe and effective results. Let's work together to help you live the pain-free life you deserve!


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