Why would we stick needles in you to relieve your pain? Let us explain.
Is Dry Needling the same thing as Acupuncture?
No, it’s not. There’s similarities, in that both involve sticking tiny needles into your body at particular points. But the philosophies, aims and outcomes are very different.
Most people have heard of acupuncture before. This ancient form of traditional Chinese medicine is well known, and has been used for centuries to treat a wide range of conditions. It’s always used in combination with other forms of treatment like cupping, exercise and herbal medicines.
It’s is believed to have originated around 100BC in China, although some experts suggest it may have been practiced a lot earlier.
There is a huge range of theories as to how and why acupuncture works, based on a wide variety of different philosophies. Acupuncture techniques can also vary from country to country. But simply put, Chinese Acupuncture is a system of traditional healing where specific points along the body’s energy meridians are stimulated, with the aim of relieving pain and restoring functionality to the organ related to that meridian.
So what is Dry Needling, then?
The origins of dry needling, surprisingly, have nothing to do with acupuncture. Dry needling originated from western medicine principles and scientific, evidence-based conclusions.
In the early 1940’s, two physicians proposed injecting various substances such as saline and painkillers into myofacial trigger points, which are the tight bands of muscle that contribute to muscular and joint dysfunction. They found a significant reduction in pain when these injections were performed.
In the late 1970’s, a study by Czech doctor Karel Lewit found that it wasn’t the substance that was being injected that helped with the pain, it was the “needle effect” itself. So there was no point doing “wet” needling, ie injecting a substance, when dry needling – just inserting the needle into the trigger point – helped reduce muscular pain just as well.
There’s been a lot of research since then, and dry needling has established itself to be an effective, low risk and minimally invasive treatment for pain. It’s shown to be most effective when a “twitch reponse” is achieved. The needle is inserted into the trigger point, and the muscle spontaneously twitches as a result of electrical activity. After the “twitch response”, the muscle will relax, easing pain and dysfunction.
We will stick pins in you and electrocute them
Will we? We can. It’s called Electro Needling, and it can be effective in treating muscle injury, joint problems and nerve damage, as well as general pain. Essentially, Electro needling can enhance the effectiveness of dry needling.
With Electro Needling, your practitioner will insert the dry needles into the appropriate trigger points, and put tiny cables on them, hooked up to an electro-stimulation unit. The electrical current will cause your muscles to twitch involuntarily, improving blood circulation and the distribution of endorphins and opioids – the bodies natural painkillers. So you will get a reduction in pain, and the healing process gets a massive boost.
What does it feel like?
To be honest, nothing really. Most people can’t feel a thing when the needle is inserted. Your practitioner may twiddle the needle slightly to illicit the twitch response, and you might feel the muscle jump a tiny bit when the twitch response kicks in. The best description is that it feels like your muscle is being flicked softly from the inside. Our practitioners always have your comfort in mind. We will always do the best to make sure the experience is as pain-free as possible.
Electro-needling feels just as benign, although it looks hilarious. Your muscle will involuntarily jump ever so slightly, to either a high-frequency or low-frequency rhythm.
Anything else I should know?
As long as you’re seeing an experienced professional, dry needling is safe, and extremely effective for relieving pain caused by a wide range of conditions. All our practitioners at Fluid Health are experienced in dry needling, so if you want to hear more or try a treatment for yourself, call us on 03 99391133 or click here to book online.
Healthcare Rebates may apply. HICAPS facilities are available
Contact us on 03 99391133 to book an appointment or click below to book online.