Therapists Offer Dry Needling for Pain Relief
Therapists Offer Dry Needling for Pain Relief

Therapists Offer Dry Needling for Pain Relief

Hospital

Wyandot Memorial Hospital Physical Therapist Trevor Barth incorporates dry needling into a therapy session to relieve pain and improve range of motion. The thin, monofilament needles inserted through the skin here are as thin as fishing line and only a little more than one inch long.

People with pain or impaired movement may benefit from dry needling, a technique available from therapy staff members at Wyandot Memorial Hospital.

The special procedure is called dry needling because it uses a “dry” needle without medication or injection. A sterile, thin monofilament needle is inserted through the skin and into the deeper muscle tissues to stimulate the underlying myofascial trigger points and muscular and connective tissues.

“Our goal with dry needling is to release or inactivate trigger points to relieve pain or improve range of motion,” Therapy Services Director John Elchert noted.

He explained a trigger point is a taut band of muscle located within a larger muscle group. These trigger points can be tender to the touch, and touching a trigger point may cause pain to other parts of the body. When dry needling is applied to the muscle or trigger point, it can decrease the banding or tightness, increase blood flow and reduce local and referred pain.

Elchert is a physical therapist and one of the WMH staff members with special training in the technique. Chris Boes, an occupational therapist and certified hand therapist, and Trevor Barth, a physical therapist, are also providers of dry needling. All three reported positive feedback from patients who have experienced the technique during therapy.

“Dry needling is a new tool we can use as part of a patient’s overall treatment,” Elchert added. “It’s rarely a standalone procedure, but rather part of a broader approach incorporating other traditional interventions into treatment. It enables me as a therapist to target tissues that are not manually palpable with the hands or other techniques.”

Does it hurt? Elchert said the procedure may be minimally discomforting and the response varies from patient to patient.

“Some have immediate relief of their symptoms and an increase in range of motion,” he stated. “Others may have an achiness or a delayed soreness the next day, and mild bruising may also occur at the needling sites.”

For most, the side effects are outweighed by the benefits for a wide variety of musculoskeletal issues, such as neck, back and shoulder pain (tennis elbow, carpal tunnel and golfer’s elbow); headaches (migraines and tension-type headaches); jaw pain; buttock pain and leg pain (sciatica, hamstring strains and calf tightness/spasms).

Elchert warned dry needling is not appropriate for all conditions and indicated the use of the technique is determined at the discretion of the therapist. He encouraged patients to talk with their healthcare provider for an order for the procedure.

He also said it is not to be confused with acupuncture.

“Acupuncture is a practice based on traditional Chinese medicine and performed by acupuncturists,” Elchert emphasized, “whereas dry needling is a part of modern medicine principles.”

Dry needling is not yet covered by most insurances, so patients having the therapy pay $30 out-of-pocket for the added service. The insurance company is still billed for the evaluation to start the therapy and other treatments that are covered by insurance.

For more information on dry needling or other physical therapy services offered at WMH, contact Elchert at 419-294-4991, extension 2269 or email pt@wyandotmemorial.org.