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Dry Needling: A Revolutionary Treatment for Back and Neck Pain

What is Dry Needling?

Dry needling, and its counterpart intramuscular stimulation (IMS), is a modern physical therapy treatment designed to ease muscular pain. Its premise involves stimulating specific trigger points in your body using a dry needle – one without medication or injection.

Dry needling (which can also be known as trigger point dry needling) is a westernized concept based on acupuncture. It is a fast and effective technique used for effective pain relief, targeting specific muscles with fine needles.

These needles are inserted into areas of the muscle known as trigger points, which are tight, knotted areas that are the root cause of pain in the body. Once the trigger point is released, it can alleviate pain and enhance overall function and mobility.

How does it work?

In simple terms, think of dry needling like a reset button for your muscles. Imagine your muscle is a knotted piece of string; the needle acts like a pin that untangles those knots, helping the muscle to relax and function better.

The needle is inserted into certain points in the muscle, which can be likened to finding the precise reset button on a device. When pressed, or in this case needled, these points help relieve pain and restore the muscle’s normal function. This is usually accompanied by a local twitch response and an increase in blood flow to the area.

It is possible to treat deep structures, such is the precision of the technique. It is a successful technique for many different problems, particularly chronic back and neck pain.

Research Supporting Dry Needling and Intramuscular Stimulation

The efficacy of dry needling treatments and intramuscular stimulation has been well-documented in the scientific community. Numerous studies have reported a marked reduction in pain and improved function in patients undergoing these physical therapy treatments.

For example, a 2013 study published in the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy found that trigger point dry needling significantly reduced neck pain by targeting and alleviating muscle tension. It’s noteworthy that this research signifies a milestone in understanding the impact of dry needling on chronic pain conditions.

A pivotal study published in the Journal of Pain Research in 2017 investigated the effectiveness of dry needling for individuals suffering from chronic lower back pain.

The research involved a total of 50 participants, all of whom had been experiencing persistent lower back pain for at least six months. The participants were divided into two groups; one group received dry needling therapy, while the other group was given a placebo treatment.

After 12 weeks of treatment, participants who received dry needling reported experiencing a significant reduction in their back pain. They also showed improvement in their mobility and overall quality of life compared to the placebo group.

Benefits of Dry Needling for Back and Neck Pain

  1. Immediate Therapeutic Pain Relief
  2. Enhanced Mobility and Flexibility
  3. Improved Posture
  4. Extended Pain-free Periods

Gunn Intramuscular Stimulation (GunnIMS)

Gunn Intramuscular Stimulation, or GunnIMS, is a form of deep dry needling named after its developer, Dr. Chan Gunn. This therapeutic technique is aimed at diagnosing and treating chronic pain of neuropathic origin. Unlike traditional dry needling, GunnIMS takes into account the relationship between the nervous system and musculoskeletal pain.

The technique involves the insertion of fine, flexible needles into the muscles, tendons, and ligaments where it has been identified that the nerve root may be irritated or sensitive.

By targeting these specific areas, GunnIMS works to diminish hypersensitivity, relieve muscle tension, promote blood flow and address the root cause of the pain.

One of the unique aspects of GunnIMS lies in its comprehensive approach to pain management. It doesn’t just focus on the area where the pain is felt but also treats the underlying nerve pathway, offering a more holistic and long-term solution to chronic pain issues.

This is a highly specialist version of dry needling that is done by only a handful of physical therapist practitioners across the country, and requires extensive knowledge of anatomy and physiology. We are proud to offer this service in Hertford and Hitchin.

Dry Needling Versus Acupuncture

While both dry needling and acupuncture utilize fine needles for treatment, dry needling stands out for several reasons.

First, it targets specific trigger points in the muscles, which are often the root cause of pain, offering immediate relief.

Unlike acupuncture treatments that follows a more holistic approach based on the traditional Chinese concept of energy meridians in the body, dry needling is more focused, dealing directly with the muscular issues causing discomfort. A dry needling practitioner will usually use anatomical knowledge, rather than meridians, to guide their treatment.

Its westernized, scientific application backed by numerous studies, including localized pain management and enhanced mobility, often makes it a more appealing choice for those seeking fast and effective relief from back and neck pain.

Conditions Treated with Dry Needling Treatment

Dry needling is a versatile treatment technique that can be used to address a broad range of conditions. The efficacy of dry needling is primarily seen in conditions associated with muscle tension, myofascial trigger points and nerve irritation.

  1. Chronic Back and Neck Pain: As mentioned earlier, dry needling shows significant effectiveness in treating chronic back and neck pain by relieving tight muscles in the affected areas.
  2. Tension Headaches and Migraines: These conditions often result from muscle tension in the neck and shoulders. Dry needling is common during physiotherapy for tension headaches and can lead to reduced headache frequency and intensity.
  3. Shoulder and Arm Pain: Conditions like rotator cuff injuries or tennis elbow, which involve muscular strain or inflammation, can be effectively managed through dry needling.
  4. Hip and Leg Pain: Dry needling can relieve tension in the large muscle groups of the hips and legs, lessening pain caused by conditions like sciatica or hamstring strains.
  5. Fibromyalgia and Myofascial Pain Syndrome: These systemic conditions are characterized by widespread muscle pain; dry needling can help manage this pain by targeting specific myofascial trigger points throughout the body. Physiotherapy for fibromyalgia often includes dry needling as an important part of managing the condition.
  6. Sports Injuries: Dry needling can expedite the recovery process for a variety of sports injuries, including sprains, strains, and overuse injuries.

Remember, while dry needling can be highly effective, it is not a standalone solution. It should be viewed as part of a comprehensive treatment plan which may include physiotherapy, exercise for muscle weakness, and a healthy lifestyle.

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Carter & George – Your Trusted Specialists in Dry Needling

At Carter & George, we pride ourselves on our expertise in dry needling and our commitment to providing personalized, high-quality care.

Our team of highly qualified physical therapy practitioners brings together a wealth of experience in pain management and rehabilitation, ensuring a deep understanding of this modern therapeutic technique.

We utilize evidence-based practice, staying up-to-date with the latest research to offer our clients the most effective treatment options. Moreover, we prioritize patient education, ensuring each individual understands their treatment plan and feels comfortable with the process.

Your treatment session may include manual therapy, sports massage, needling techniques, electrotherapy and exercise rehabilitation.

This holistic approach has helped us successfully manage and alleviate back and neck pain for a multitude of clients, firmly establishing Carter & George as trusted specialists in dry needling.

We have specialists in IMS at Hertford and Hitchin clinics.

FAQs about Dry Needling

Is Dry Needling Painful?

While experiences with dry needling can vary among individuals, most patients report feeling minimal pain. The sensation is often described as a slight pinch or local twitch response when the needle is inserted into the muscle tissue.

Some mild soreness or muscle pain may be experienced post-procedure, but this typically subsides within 24 to 48 hours. This is also typical of other physical therapy treatments.

It’s important to note that our trained practitioners prioritize patient comfort and use precise techniques to minimize any discomfort during the treatment.

How Many Treatments Will I Need?

Most patients typically require between 4-6 sessions of dry needling to experience significant long term pain reduction. However, many report an immediate improvement after their initial session.

This can vary depending on the severity and longevity of the condition, the patient’s overall health, and their responsiveness to the treatment

Is Dry Needling Suitable For Me?

Dry needling is appropriate for individuals who are experiencing musculoskeletal pain, especially pain associated with trigger points, such as back and neck pain.

This technique is also highly beneficial for those who haven’t found relief from traditional treatment methods, or for those who are seeking a non-pharmacological, holistic approach to pain management.

Furthermore, this therapy can be an excellent option for patients who are aiming to enhance their mobility, improve their posture, and extend their pain-free periods, as dry needling directly targets the source of discomfort and facilitates a natural, healing response.

There are very few people who cannot have dry needling, and our physiotherapists will be able to discuss this with you if there is a reason why you cannot receive it.

Contact Us

Scheduling an appointment with our team of skilled physiotherapists at Carter & George has been made easy and straightforward for your convenience.

Simply click here to book online, where you will be directed to our online booking system, where you can select the service you require, choose your preferred physiotherapist, and pick a suitable date and time for your appointment.

All our Physiotherapists are able to offer dry needling in a normal Physiotherapy session.

Alternatively, you can contact our administrative team via phone for any assistance you may need on 01992 446725.

Our Locations

Carter & George are proud to offer our services in three accessible locations: Hertford, Hitchin, and Radlett.

Each clinic is strategically situated to serve a vast community, providing everyone with the opportunity to access our exceptional physiotherapy services.