I hope everyone had a great summer. Now that you all are well rested from vacation, it's time to talk shop. Some of you may have recently seen or heard of a semi-new technique called Dry Needling. Those of you who have not been in our office might be wondering what dry needling is: What is Dry Needling? Dry needling is an exciting new(ish) technique that uses a small non-hollow needle to directly treat trigger points in dysfunctional muscles. For various reasons muscles will have trigger points that can cause that muscle to become either overactive, causing strain to that muscle and surrounding tendons and joints or can also cause a muscle to become latent and therefore require other ill-equipped muscles to share its responsibilities. Dry needling is able to affect those trigger points more directly than other deep tissue techniques like Active Release, deep tissue massage or Graston. How does it work? By inserting the small needle into a trigger point, a local twitch response is created. This helps to normalize the activity of that trigger point and the muscle in which it lies. It also creates increased blood flow in the injured area. Increased blood flow helps to neutralize the pH of the acidic environment of an injured muscle. It also helps to remove pain-causing agents and bring in healing factors. Dry needling causes faulty connections between the nerves and muscles to be removed and replaced with a healthy connection, improving coordination of the muscle. Long story short, it directly increases blood flow, which decreases pain and increases health of a muscle, tendon or ligament. Wow sounds great, but doesn’t it hurt? Patient’s pain response to this treatment varies wildly. Most people feel a subtle pinch when the needle enters the skin. This is similar to a bug bite. At that point it is fairly painless (most people don’t feel anything) as it passes through healthy tissue. Once it reaches the trigger point, a quick (less than a second) cramping sensation is felt. As long as people don’t have a needle phobia, a majority of people have very little problem with it. A large fraction of people will even have immediate relief from the treatment.