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Dry Needling in Fort Lauderdale Area
Dry Needling in Fort Lauderdale Area
What Is It?
Dry needling is a treatment method, approved for use by physical therapists, to treat many types of pain, injuries and conditions. It is an invasive treatment technique where a needle is used to break the skin in order to get to the desired/injured tissue to create a response at the chemical and cellular level. Once the needle is inserted it is manually and/or electrically stimulated in order to elicit the desired tissue response. Treatments can last 20 to 45 minutes, depending on the area and injury type.
How Does It Work?
There are 5 different way in which needling works (some combination of the following affects will occur depending on the tissue type targeted):
- Chronic conditions occur when the body’s ability to heal itself ceases prior to healing completion. Needle application kickstarts a new healing response. The healing response caused by needle penetration also continues to heal the healing response to the initial injury.
- Trigger points occur when a constant signal to contract happens in the affected bands of muscle tissue. Needle application blocks this signal so that the muscle is able to return to normal resting tone.
- Needle application breaks through scar tissue that is ill equipped to handle the stresses placed on it. The break-up of this scar tissue allows for more functional tissue to be built up in the area so that the injury site can return to its’ prior level of function.
- The dull pain caused by the needle signals the brain to upregulate production of endogenous opioids useful in overall pain reduction. Chemicals useful in repairing and rebuilding tissues are also upregulated in order to improve the healing capabilities of the injury site. These chemicals can rebuild tissue that has occurred from both traumatic as well as degenerative breakdown and reverse the degenerative process that happens over time.
- Many injuries persist due to the affected tissue having a poor blood supply. Tissues such as ligaments, tendons and joints have inherent poor blood supply. The application of needles causes bleeding in the area and this improved blood flow reaches the tissues that otherwise would not get it. Blood is what transports healing factors in an area, so this improved transport improves healing as well.
What Type of Needles Are Used?
A thin, monofilament needle is used to pierce the skin and enter the desired tissue with minimal pain from the breaking of the skin. These needles are known to be durable and versatile to avoid any dangers of breaking. Needles come in an individual guide tube to protect the patient and the therapist while maintaining a clean and safe treatment. Some needles come bundled with only one guide tube but, these are purchased with cost saving in mind and should not be trusted. There are two types of needles commonly seen in the clinic: those with plastic handles and those with metal handles, which are better for use with electrical stimulation.
Who does it help?
Needling can help many conditions from acute to chronic injuries, chronic pain, headaches and, in some cases, systemic conditions. Current research is available to justify the use of needles to treat the following conditions affectively:
- Achilles Tendonitis
- Shin Splints
- Plantar Fasciitis (Foot Pain)
- IT Band Syndrome
- Muscle Strains
- Low Back Pain
- Herniated or Bulging Discs
- Nerve Problems
- Neck Pain
- TMJ Syndrome
- Rotator Cuff
- Epicondylitis (Tennis/Golfers Elbow)
- Upper Back and Shoulder dysfunction
- Hip Bursitis
- Piriformis Syndrome
- Degenerative joint disease
- Hand/Finger Pain
- Scar formation
- Post-Surgical pain and dysfunction
- Frozen Shoulder
- Sinus Congestion
- Impaired Mobility
Is it safe?
Needling is a very safe treatment. There are very few absolute contraindications as well as very few relative contraindications that must be taken into account when deciding if needling is safe for a specific patient.
NOTE: Patients who / conditions that CANNOT receive needling include:
- At open wound sites
- Metastatic cancer
- Impaired clotting ability
- Active Infection
- Electrical needling near pacemaker
Is it painful?
Needling can and should be slightly uncomfortable during the treatment. This pain is often described as good pain by the patient but can be intense for short periods of time immediately after needle insertion. This ache should dissipate within 30 seconds of needle placement and only return when the needle is manipulated manually or electronically.
After the treatment the patient will likely report soreness that can last up to 2-3 full days after treatment. This soreness should not be severe or debilitating as that is a signal of over-treating the area. If no soreness occurs this is also a small negative as it can be a sign of under-treating the area.
Why is it better than other treatments (cupping, scraping, etc.)?
The main reason that needling is a more effective treatment is because it actually penetrates the skin to directly affect the tissues involved. Other treatments “reach down” for the injured tissue from the skin and have to travel through multiple layers of other tissue to do so. Needling, however, penetrates these layers and affects the tissue and cells that are directly injured.
How is it different than acupuncture?
Dry Needling and acupuncture are similar in tools used as well as application techniques. Where the two differ is in their theoretical construct of use. Acupuncturists are trained in lines called meridians and how those meridians move chi/energy throughout the body. Acupuncturists treat by trying to restore normal flow of this chi. Dry Needling, on the other hand, takes a more western approach. It looks at directly affecting the tissue involved in an injury to create a chemical and cellular response within that tissue. Dry needling research is based on the actions of the needle once it is in the affected tissue, how the nervous system relays that message to the brain and how the brain responds to the signaling of injury and pain from the needle.
Is it done the same way by everyone?
Unfortunately, it is not. Just like any treatment technique that is “trendy” or “new” some clinicians outweigh the financial upside to patient safety and take subpar courses to acquire the skill. It is always best to find a clinician that has taken a reputable course that requires stringent certification guidelines and teach the most effective, evidence-based approaches. Our clinicians are required to only take the highest level of these course types in order to provide the highest level of care. The courses we take are provided through the American Academy of Manipulative Therapy as these courses teach the most advanced, evidence-based techniques to create expert level needling clinicians. Secondarily, these courses only provide certification to clinicians able to demonstrate the knowledge and practical skills needed to be considered a needling expert. They require passage of both written and practical exams at the end of their courses in order to obtain certification. This ensures that only the best clinicians are able to boast this level of certification.
Is it covered by insurance?
Not at this time. When approval was granted the insurance companies gave the therapists a code to use when needling but, they neglected to attach a price to that code as a way to avoid covering this new and effective treatment technique.