The difference between acupuncture and dry needling. We use dry needling commonly in the clinic. Mainly Mike the sports massage therapist but all of our chiropractors are trained in dry needling as well.
It’s not traditionally part of the chiropractic makeup but we want to give our clients the best opportunity of getting the best results long term which is why we recruit different specialties and different treatment methods to add more tools into the toolbox, giving the best service for our clients.
We are constantly learning, adapting, learning new techniques and skills in order to provide greater knowledge for a wider variety of conditions.
As we always say, no back pain is the same. There are different causes, different root issues and different factors that are in play. It’s not just a structural component to back pain. There’s emotional. There are chemical elements to it as well.
We’ve all had the feeling after a long week at work, your shoulders tend to tense up, neck can be painful, sometimes a dull headache as there is a huge emotional aspect to the way that we feel and the way that our bodies are physiologically functioning.
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What Is Dry Needling?
What is dry needling? It’s using a fine monofilament needle to penetrate the dermal layer of the skin to get deep into the intermuscular tissue. What we often find as Chiropractors we are looking for misalignments in the spine where the muscles attach on to the bones. There’s going to be tension in the muscles causing what you would know as knots.
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What Is A Trigger Point?
We refer to them as trigger points. It’s essentially a hyperirritable spot on the muscle that we are trying to release. We can do this with massage, with trigger point release but a really effective way is to use a needle into that trigger point. It expands the fibres, allowing them to regroup and reorder in the right way, releasing the tension on the muscle.
The application of the dry needling process is very simple. We locate the trigger point with our patient, which obviously takes skill and should be done by a trained professional. We cleanse the area and then hold the knots between our fingers and pop the needle into it.
Does Dry Needling Hurt?
We often will twist the needle just to get the different areas or move it in and out to get the different parts of the knot. It doesn’t hurt. You usually don’t feel the needles because they’re so fine and we get the spot. You often will see a twitch in the fibre which just means that the fibres have released and we could pull the needle out. So very often the needle is in for less than five seconds.
We dispose the needle in a sharps box and then because it’s so thin, you don’t need any plaster or any gauze across the top of it. We use different sized needles for different muscles. Obviously, the muscles around the shoulders going to the neck, they’re called the upper trapezius muscles. They don’t need that big a needle so they’re usually about a 25mm needle. But going into the glutes, so often when we have sciatica or lower back pain, the glutes being the buttock muscles, we often need larger needles due to the dermal layer and not having more fat tissue around that area. Often we use 50mm needles going to them.
What’s The Difference Between Acupuncture And Dry Needling?
What’s the difference between acupuncture and dry needling? Well, this is coming from a Chiropractor who’s not a specialist in acupuncture at all. We should really get an acupuncturist to come on and answer this question. But from my point of view, the application is the same in terms of the materials they use, so the needles are the same. But the theory behind it is completely different.
Like if an Osteopath was going to adjust your back and a Chiropractor is going to adjust your back, it may feel very similar. But the actual theory behind it, the desired outcome is completely different.
With acupuncture, it is a traditional Chinese medicine where they’re looking at the meridian channels in the body. Meridians are energy channels that run through the body and have certain points going along them and the theory is if you can release energy channels, it’s going to help to improve function through the body.
Very often people will go in with systemic conditions. For example women with polycystic ovaries who are having pregnancy issues, or pregnancy related pain, people who have digestive issues or headaches. They wouldn’t necessarily needle the head for a headache. They would do other points on the area where they think there are blockages in the energy channels to allow that to flow through the body.
You need to have extreme knowledge of traditional Chinese medicine to be able to apply this theory and also know exactly where all the points are. There are many key different points across the whole body. You really need to know which ones relate to which meridians and which organs and be able to balance them thoroughly.
We don’t practice this. We’re just looking for the trigger points. If you do have any knots or tight areas that you’re stretching the whole time and just won’t release, then perhaps dry needling could be an alternative method you can try.
Please let us know next time you’re in. We can book you in with one of the chiropractors or Mike and we could get some dry needling, try it on you. I promise it doesn’t hurt and it can be a really nice way to release some tension.
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