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Dry needling

Dry needling (also known as intramuscular manual therapy) is a drug-free way to help stop muscle pain by deactivating a myofascial trigger point. Trigger points are tiny knots that develop in a muscle when it is injured or overworked. These spots are painful at their site, and can also cause "referred pain" in other areas. Dry needling can relieve aches and pains caused by trigger points.

How is it performed?

Your healthcare provider will clean the site with alcohol. A thin, sterile needle is then inserted through the skin and into your muscle to target the trigger point. This can make the muscle twitch. Needles are always disposed of after your treatment; they are never reused.

Does it hurt?

You may feel brief pain when the needle is in the right spot, but it will only last a couple seconds. Most people do not feel the needle go in.

What kind of pain is it used to treat?

  • Neck
  • Back
  • Jaw
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Arm
  • Shoulder
  • Buttock
  • Leg

Is dry needling the same as acupuncture?

No, dry needling is based on Western medicine principles and research. Research shows that inserting a needle into a trigger point can cause biochemical changes, which assists in reducing muscle aches and pains.

What are the side effects?

You may be sore in the spot that was treated or where the pain was referred. The soreness can last from a few hours up to two days. This soreness is not the same for all people. Your provider may tell you to put ice or heat over the treated area, as well as what movements you can and cannot do after the treatment.

It may take more than one treatment to have lasting results. This treatment is part of your whole rehab plan. Other options may be added to help maintain long-term relief.

Will insurance cover this?

Dry needling is an elective procedure, so call your insurance company to verify what is covered. Dry needling is used in conjunction with other forms of physical therapy interventions that are typically covered by insurance.

How do I begin treatment?

Check with your insurance company to determine if a referral to Physical Therapy is needed. If a referral is not required, call Gundersen Sports Medicine to schedule an appointment. If a referral is required, contact your primary care provider to request a referral, or contact our department and ask for help in facilitating this process.

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