What is...Dry Needling?

Quince Orchard Medical Center was proud to offer acupuncture for years as part of our comprehensive treatment plans for patients in our community. Sadly, with the retirement of Dr. Weiner, we had to cease offering acupuncture. 

With the addition of Dr. Susan DeMaille to our clinician team, however, we are excited to introduce dry needling to the QOMC community. 


Are dry needling and acupuncture the same?

If you see a patient receiving dry needling and acupuncture at the same time it might look the same. Both use thin, stainless steel needles inserted into the skin with the intention of treating pain. However this is where the similarities end.

Acupuncture is rooted in Eastern medicine and has been used for thousands of years. Here in the US it is used as an alternative medicine treatment. Dry needling has been adopted in the last couple of decades and is a Western medicine technique. Acupuncture focuses on opening up a person’s energy flow or chi to relieve pain, or treat other issues. Dry needling is designed to stimulate and relieve trigger points, or muscles that are painful.


What is dry needling?

While the name may sound intimidating, dry needling is safe, minimally discomforting, and often an effective treatment for patients with muscle pain and movement impairments. Dry needling may provide relief for some muscle pain and stiffness while improving flexibility and increase range of motion. It can be used to treat sports injuries, muscle pain, and even fibromyalgia pain. Other applications include musculoskeletal issues such as shoulder, neck, heel, hip, and back pain.

During a dry needling treatment, a practitioner inserts several filiform needles into your skin. Filiform needles are fine, short, stainless steel needles that do not deliver fluid into the body, hence the term “dry” is used.

Practitioners place the needles in “trigger points” in your muscle tissue, which are local contracture or tight bands in muscle fiber that disrupt function, restrict range of motion, refer pain, or cause local tenderness. The needle helps release the knot, increase blood flow, and relieve associated muscle pain or spasms. The needles remain in your skin for a short period of time, the duration depends on the technique the particitioner is using for your unique situation. 

Some dry needling techniques treat a broader landscape and involve the central nervous system. This technique is called non-trigger point treatment. Instead of inserting the needles only into the specific area of pain, the practitioner may insert needles in areas around the point of pain. This relies on the idea that pain is the result of a greater nerve or muscular issue, not just focused on the main area of discomfort.


What are the side effects of dry needling?

Mild side effects are very common with dry needling but serious side effects are rare.

The most common side effects around the insertion site include:

How do I know if dry needling is right for me?

Each person is unique and QOMC encourages our patients to be proactive with their treatment options. If you’d like to know if dry needling is right for you, please ask your clinician if they do not suggest it to you themselves. We are happy to help our community to explore every option towards living pain free.

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