Written by Georgie Nesbitt

Dry Needling

What is dry needling?

Dry needling is an extremely unique and newly designed treatment used to relieve and soothe muscular pain, caused by tension, stress or injury. By using thin, dry filament needles your osteopath can easily target and pinpoint the area causing your discomfort. The needles are introduced into the skin where they cause a small, precise ‘injury’ within the tissue; enabling the body to send a signal to the brain, suggesting that there is an area which needs to be renewed or repaired. This is when the body undergoes the process of tissue restoration. Creating new, healthy tissue, replacing the damaged tissue causing pain.

Needling in more specific areas such as ‘muscle knots’ or ‘trigger points’, commonly provokes a ‘twitching’ response from the muscle. The ‘twitching’ sensation stimulated by the small needle allows the muscle fibres in the target area to loosen and relax. As a result of this the muscle becomes less inflamed and the blood circulation to this region is improved immensely. Therefore, preventing muscle tightness, spasms and enhancing your overall sense of wellbeing.

Do I need dry needling?

Dry needling can treat a variety of pain including both acute and chronic. At either your follow-up or initial consultation your osteopath will suggest whether this treatment will be beneficial for you and your body, but this specific treatment is mostly used for individuals suffering from Musculoskeletal pain. In more simpler terms this refers to individuals suffering from pain, weakness, stiffness, or a decreased range of movement in certain parts of the body. Areas including the shoulder, neck, hip, heel and back, are commonly treated using this effective method.

Will it hurt me?

It is completely natural to assume that this treatment will inflict pain as it involves a sharp object being pricked into one’s skin, but the procedure is completely safe and near to pain-free. In most cases the needle insertion is compared to that of an injection, with many unphased by the ‘pain’ and a few individuals describing a slight discomfort. But this temporary pain relieves itself almost at once, with some patients reporting an instant sense of relaxation within their muscles. During treatment, however, patients commonly describe the sensation of weight in the limbs along with the pleasant experience of relaxation. All of which complement one another to enable muscle restoration and a great sense of wellbeing!

Who can perform Dry Needling?

Our Osteopaths here at Solihull Osteopathic Practice are trained in using the dry needling technique and are able to reduce patient’s pain as a result of this.

Is Dry Needling safe when Pregnant?

Dry needling is a completely safe treatment to have whilst pregnant for both pregnancy related problems and other ongoing issues. The Dry needling technique has been proved to be extremely effective for treating pregnancy related pain throughout all three trimesters. In particular, women suffering from Pelvic pain. Pelvic pain usually begins within the first few weeks of pregnancy and often deteriorates from then on in as the core muscles become less effective in its ability to protect. As a result of this, the strain on the pelvis only becomes worse, causing difficulties in walking and sometimes sitting. However, dry needling is proven to help incredibly with this as it can pinpoint and target the ‘Gluteus Medius’ muscle (an important muscle which stabilizes and levels the pelvis during walking whilst holding the body’s weight.) So, treating this muscle using the dry needling technique can relieve and relax it, causing the pelvic pain to reduce significantly. Therefore, the dry needling technique is completely safe to treat pregnant women for both pregnancy related pains and ongoing conditions!

How often should I get this treatment done?

Ultimately there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution to this question as this depends solely on a patient’s own body. The treatment is usually most effective after 2-3 sessions, and the number of times the treatment is needed often depends on the severity of an individual’s condition and their body’s response to the needling. Therefore, there cannot be a stated number of times the treatment should be practised as the answer is a conditional factor.

Isn’t this the same as acupuncture? What is the difference?

Acupuncture and Dry needling are quite often interchangeable terms. One of the most obvious similarities being, the use of the needling technique. But this is where their similarity ends! As there are key differences which identify their purpose and separate them apart from one another.

Acupuncture is a treatment derived from ancient Chinese medicine, aiming to reduce muscle pain, and creating a better sense of wellbeing, it follows the principle of inserting needles into acupunctural pathways. The needles are placed into specific points in the body which stimulates the nerve causing a signal to be transmitted to the brain, where chemicals are released to repair the tissue. This form of treatment is broader than dry needling and although extremely effective, does not pinpoint specific trigger points, unlike dry needling. However, dry needling is a more modern form of treatment and is based on current medical science and research adapted by many specialists. It targets specific trigger points and relieves pain almost at once to a specific muscle knot.

In a nutshell, acupuncture is designed to relieve pain and discomfort on a wider spectrum, while dry needling stimulates key trigger points relieving irritable muscle knots and tightness.

Are there any side effects?

As with most treatments, dry needling has a few minor side effects which are all temporary and wear away quickly. The most adverse effects have been minor, and these include:

  • Soreness during or immediately after treatment
  • Bruising (where needles were placed)
  • Bleeding (were needles were placed)
  • Fatigue
  • Fainting

The muscle will undoubtedly feel fatigued after treatment, but we encourage our patients to maintain their active lifestyles as this will keep the soreness to a minimum. Drinking plenty of water, stretching and moving as much as possible helps to relieve possible soreness quickly. The achy feeling should wear away after 1-2 days and you will feel a new sense of relief within your muscles, typically seeing an improved range in motion due to the benefits of the Dry Needling technique.

Booking an Osteopath Appointment

At Solihull Osteopathic Practice, we pride ourselves on offering quality and professional support to help everyone who comes to us achieve optimal health. Our practice operates in a safe and clean environment, offering osteopathy techniques and a holistic approach to wellbeing, to deliver the best results we possibly can for you.

If you are looking for pain relief or other osteopathic services, you can book your first appointment with our team today by calling 0121 705 4499