By Dr. Adam M. Cramer, PT, DPT
At MyoFit Clinic we see patients whose whole quality of life has been put on hold while they wrestle with debilitating musculoskeletal pain. They want to avoid surgery and understand that physical therapy first is the safest and most effective option. Sometimes the pain centers in their shoulders, neck and back, or manifests itself with severe muscle spasms. Other times it appears as tendinitis, foot, hip or knee pain, muscle strains, and overuse injuries. In treating all of these patients, we have achieved some amazing results using a physical therapy treatment known as “dry needling.”
What is dry needling? Dry needling is a skilled intervention that a Doctor of Physical Therapy performs using a thin filiform needle to penetrate the skin and stimulate underlying myofascial trigger points, muscular, and connective tissues for the management of neuromusculoskeletal pain and movement impairments which leads to improved healing and activity performance.
When we initially recommend dry needling to patients, some of them confuse it with a traditional Chinese medicine known as acupuncture, where the same kind of needle is used. But that is where the similarity stops. Dry needling is different in that it is based on western neuroanatomy and modern scientific study of the musculoskeletal and nervous system.
Unlike acupuncture, the needles in dry needling therapy administered by a doctor of physical therapy are inserted into trigger points in the body to elicit a twitch response. In essence, the needles create a beneficial inflammatory response to release the trigger point and help to promote healing.
How it feels for the client. When we discuss dry needling, clients often express concern that it will be painful. Actually, it can be quite comfortable to receive this therapy. Most of our clients cannot even tell when the needle has been inserted. When the muscle twitch response happens, they may experience some minimal discomfort which they describe as a bit of pressure but then the individual experiences immediate pain relief!
For most clients who have been burdened by chronic pain for a long time, it takes several treatments before they can report significant pain reduction. After and during each treatment, we perform massage, gentle stretches or light exercise, along with moist heat that will also help increase the blood flow to promote healing. When pain relief does happen, it can be an emotional experience for the client. To finally be rid of a pain they have shouldered for months or even years leaves them with a feeling of incredulity and tremendous relief.
This treatment is very safe, cost-effective, low risk, covered by all medical insurances and requires no referral. To avoid surgery, consult with a doctor of physical therapy first!
Dr. Adam M. Cramer, PT, DPT, is a licensed doctor of physical therapy, pain specialist and owner of MyoFit Clinic in Chardon, Ashtabula and 14950 S Springdale Ave. in Middlefield (44062). Call 440- 632-1007. References available at MyoFitClinic.com.