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  • Writer's pictureMy Family Podiatry

What Is Dry Needling?

Dry needling is a technique we regularly use at My Family Podiatry to help treat soft tissue injuries and pain. This therapy involves the use of very thin acupuncture needles to stimulate trigger points in muscles, leading to a cascade of healing mechanisms and the relaxation of muscle tension. It is called "dry" needling because the needle is not injected with any substance. Instead, the needle is used to stimulate the body's natural healing process.

Dry needling will regularly be used to help treat:

  • Plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendinopathy: Releasing tension from the calf muscles can improve pain levels and restore function to the ankle joint.

  • Shin splints: Dry needling can be used on the muscles through the inside of the shin to help with pain.

  • After ankle sprains: Following an ankle sprain, the muscles of the leg and ankle can become very tight and restricted. Dry needling can help restore function, assist with rehabilitation and get you back to activity sooner.

  • Fibromyalgia and myofascial pain syndromes: The chronic pain can lead to muscular overuse and dysfunction. Dry needling can help release muscular tension and pain blocking enzymes.

How Does Dry Needling Work?

There are 4 main ways dry needling works to improve muscle pain and function:

  1. Release of trigger points: A trigger point is a small area of muscle that is tightly contracted, more commonly called a “knot” and lead to pain and discomfort. A needle is inserted into the trigger point which can cause a local twitch response, a twitch in the muscle before it relaxes.

  2. Cascade of pain relieving chemicals: Dry needling induces the release of chemicals such as endorphins, natural pain-relieving chemicals. It also stimulates the release of other neurotransmitters that help to reduce inflammation and promote healing.

  3. Improving blood flow to the area: Dry needling draws blood flow to the area, bringing in oxygen and nutrients that are essential for healing.

  4. Stimulating the nervous system: Dry needling stimulates the nervous system to relax the muscle, which can improve range of motion of joints and reduce pain.

Who Should Not Get Dry Needling?

While dry needling is a safe treatment option, there are some individuals for who it is not suitable.

  1. Individuals with bleeding disorders: Dry needling involves the insertion of needles into the skin, which can cause bleeding. Individuals with bleeding disorders or who are taking blood-thinning medication should not receive dry needling.

  2. Pregnant women: Pregnant women should not receive dry needling, as the safety of the procedure during pregnancy has not been established.

  3. Individuals with metal allergies or a history of adverse reactions to needles: Those with a history of adverse reactions to needles, needle phobia or allergies to metals should not receive dry needling.

  4. Individuals with certain skin conditions: Individuals with certain skin conditions such as infection, eczema, or psoriasis should not receive dry needling as it can worsen the condition.

  5. Individuals with certain medical conditions: Individuals with certain medical conditions such as cancer or immune deficiencies should not receive dry needling.

Does Dry Needling Hurt?

Dry needling is relatively painless. The needles are extremely thin and people often say they don’t even feel the needles going in. Occasionally people will have some discomfort with the treatment and will often report muscle soreness the next day similar to a deep tissue massage. This pain is short lived and makes way for relief and improvement in function.

Dry needling is a therapy we often use in conjunction with other treatments such as orthotics, shockwave and exercise rehabilitation to speed up the rate of healing. If you or someone you know has been struggling with leg or foot pain, call the team at My Family Podiatry on 3088 6116 or book an appointment using the button below.

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