Do you suffer from painful knots in your muscles? It’s a common problem that many people try to treat with massages, injections, doctors, medications, and more. Ames resident Steve Kellner suffered from a similar pain after months of running resulted in very painful shin splints. The pain was stopping him from checking running a marathon off his bucket list.
Stretches he found online and his doctor’s medical advice didn’t make even a little bit of difference in his pain, so Kellner went to Tim Vander Wilt, physical therapist at Kinetic Edge Physical Therapy. At Kellner’s initial evaluation, Vander Wilt examined his symptoms and the source of his pain. He proposed a new plan to Kellner that intrigued him, a plan that included dry needling.
“I had never heard of dry needling before going to Kinetic Edge,” shared Kellner. “But I felt comfortable giving it a try as nothing else seemed to help.”
So like Kellner, you might be thinking:
Dry needling is a technique practiced by Kinetic Edge’s Physical Therapists Tim Vander Wilt (Ames), Kaity Hall (Des Moines), and Melissa Hansen (Pella) to bring clients relief from pain. The technique uses a “dry” needle, meaning it’s one without medication or injection that’s inserted through the skin into areas of the muscle, known as trigger points.
What is a trigger point?
A trigger point is a taut band of skeletal muscle located within a larger muscle group. Trigger points can be tender to the touch, and touching a trigger point may cause pain to other parts of the body. People often refer to these areas as “knots” in their muscles.
When performing dry needling to the trigger point, a local twitch response is observed. This will stimulate the muscle to perform an involuntary contraction of the affected muscle fiber followed by relaxation of the taut band. This typically allows the muscle to relax and reduce tightness to the trigger point or painful area leading to overall relief from pain.
Who benefits from dry needling?
Dry needling assists in reducing tight and/or taut muscles, improving range of motion due to muscular pain and tightness, and relieving generalized pain to the muscle. Dry needling as part of an overall treatment plan has proven effective for Kinetic Edge clients who suffer from:
- Myofascial pain
- Tension headaches
- Whiplash disorders
- Chronic pain
There are some precautions that would limit treatment, such as those with an aversion to needles, those who are six months or less out from a surgical procedure, anyone with a compromised immune system, and women who are pregnant.
This sounds a lot like acupuncture… How is it different?
Dry needling is not acupuncture, a practice based on traditional Chinese medicine and performed by acupuncturists. Dry needling is a part of modern Western medicine principles, and supported by research.
Although acupuncture needles are used, the technique is different from acupuncture. Acupuncture uses a technique where meridians are used to treat an area on the body. Meridians are not used in dry needling. Dry needling targets specific trigger points in the body.
“The best comparison I can give is it feels like a very low level electric current traveling through your body where the technique is being applied,” stated Kellner. “Maybe vaguely uncomfortable but certainly not painful. Probably the most bizarre aspect is how you can feel the nerves twitching as the needle is adjusted. For me, there were a few spots that were especially tight which did cause a small amount of pain.”
For Kellner and many other patients at Kinetic Edge Physical Therapy, dry needling has provided a much desired solution to pain after countless other medical treatments failed.
“After utilizing the dry needling technique as well as having Tim coach me on my running form, I was able to complete my first half marathon,” shared Kellner. “I then realized how much fun it was and signed up for a second, and finally I was able to run a marathon, a goal that I had be trying to achieve for nearly ten years.”
If you are suffering from pain and have tried everything to get rid of it, dry needling might be the perfect solution for you. Call Kinetic Edge at 866-588-0230 or email us to schedule your initial evaluation to see if dry needling could get rid of your pain!