If you suffer a sports or musculoskeletal injury, a general acupuncture approach may not be sufficient. The acupuncturists at FoRM Health in Portland, Oregon offer athletes and lay people alike a more specialized approach.
Sports acupuncture and dry needling provide more effective, direct care for your injury by specifically helping reduce muscle and connective tissue (fascia) tension to decrease pain, increase circulation, and support healing. Sessions are tailored to the patient’s condition, and typically involve a mix of dry needling, standard acupuncture techniques, and complementary modalities (cupping, GuaSha, electric stimulation, infrared, and more).
FoRM acupuncturists have experience treating high level athletes with dry needling, including professional acrobats, USA track and field runners, and even multiple Olympic medalists. You definitely don’t have to be a professional, or even call yourself an athlete, but we can help you feel like one! Call us today or schedule online to get started.
What Conditions is Dry Needling used for?
- Muscle spasms and cramps
- Tension or strain headaches
- Sprains and strains
- Low back and spinal related pain
- Tennis elbow
- Achilles tendonitis
- Plantar fasciitis
- Gluteal tendinopathy
- Shin splints
What is the difference between acupuncture and dry needling?
In a broad sense, acupuncture and dry needling are essentially the same; both techniques utilize small needles that are inserted through the skin. Beyond that, however, there is typically a difference in both the decision as to where to apply the needles and how they are used or manipulated. While some acupuncturists essentially use a style basically identical to dry needling, for many patients the experience can be quite different.
Acupuncture is based on a 2000+ year old system of Chinese philosophy which at a very basic level looks at the human body as essentially an energetic system existing in a state of fluctuating balance/imbalance. Meridians, or channels, in the body related to an organ network (similar, but not synonymous with anatomic organs) help identify sites of blockage or imbalance where needles can be inserted. Systemic imbalances, again related to the organs and the overall state of the person, are further treated with medications, herbs, food/nutrient choices etc that aim to restore the imbalance. This Chinese Medicine view is complex, needing extensive training in the philosophy to fully understand it, or at least its application from a health standpoint. Attempts to prove or understand it from a Western medical or anatomical view are difficult as basically it is like speaking two different languages or religions, i.e. intermixing French and Japanese when speaking, or trying to explain Christianity through Buddhist terms. Acupuncture applied from within its own context can be very effective for a variety of conditions, as proven both in studies and by its presence in medical care for over 2 millennia.
Dry needling, in contrast, is based on a strict Western anatomical basis. Regions of tight, constricted muscles are identified. Needles are inserted into (often) predictable sites of the muscles, usually motor or trigger points, and manipulated until a twitch in the muscles is elicited. This twitch is basically a quick contraction of the muscle. The twitch is essential; when a muscle contracts it typically then causes a reflexive relaxation of that muscle, thereby calming or re-setting the tone of the muscle.
Interestingly, and where the debate often comes in across different practitioners, is that acupuncture points often coincide or overlap with the points used in dry needling. This is of no surprise, however, and helps prove both therapies when you consider that two different viewpoints or philosophies end up with the same therapeutic site.
Does acupuncture or dry needling hurt?
Acupuncture typically does not hurt at all, other than an occasional very slight poke when a needle is inserted. Treatments are often very relaxing, and patients may experience immediate pain reduction or increasing pain relief over the course of treatments. Dry needling also has minimal if any discomfort with needle insertion. The twitch of muscles is not as much painful, as much as the often strong contractions are more involuntary and more uncomfortable. A strong twitch, however, is often a good sign, as the overly tight muscles needed an intense contraction to release. Without any contractions, dry needling is often not needed. After a dry needling session, muscles are typically sore for 12-24 hours.
Do I have to rest or limit activity after a dry needling treatment?
In general, no. Movement can actually help reduce any lingering soreness from dry needling. At the same time, it is recommended to avoid intense exercise within 24 hours of a dry needling session.