Dry Needling Technique Manages Pain
Patients with chronic or acute muscle pain may find greater relief through a technique called dry needling. “It’s worked well for people who have tried a lot of other things and haven’t had the best response, said Annie Schmidt, DPT at ThedaCare Medical Center-New London.
Dry needling is used in conjunction with other physical therapy interventions. Dry needling is a technique performed by a physical therapist that uses a thin needle to relax trigger points, sore muscles, and tight tendons. “Dry needling helps to manage pain caused by a muscle and help the patient move better and be stronger,” said Schmidt.
Once the needle touches the tight muscle, it produces a cramping or electrical feeling. “This is a good response,” said Schmidt. “This response will reduce the pain caused by the tight muscle. We want to see that little twitch of the muscle because we know we hit the trigger point.”
Dry needling has been offered through ThedaCare for the last year and a half. Services are provided in New London as well as Neenah, Appleton, Darboy, Clintonville, Shawano and Waupaca. Two certified clinicians and five employees are going through the extensive certification process and should be certified in 2018.
Dry needling is ideal for those who have an over-used muscle, muscle injury, severe knots, and other muscle pains. Schmidt said she talks at length with patients to educate them about the process. “Because it’s an invasive procedure, we try to really take time with patient selection and patient education,” she said.
She said the needles used during the procedure are not like those used for giving a vaccine or for a blood draw. “A lot of times when the needle goes into the skin, the patient won’t know,” she said.
Dry needling can provide a reduction in pain after a few treatments, said Schmidt. It can improve range of motion and decrease tightness of the muscles. It can also help with chronic and acute pain.
Dry needling is growing in popularity among patients and doctors, said Schmidt, noting that local doctors have provided referrals. Some patients prefer it because it seems help take care of pain a little faster, said Schmidt. “It can provide the best care in a shorter time frame,” she said.
The dry needling takes 10-15 minutes per area. It can be done once a week in the same area for three to four weeks. “While there may be some initial soreness after the treatment, this initial discomfort will subside in a few hours to two days,” said Schmidt.
Schmidt, who has been a physical therapist for 13 years, loves to hear about the response to treatments from patients. “They have tried other methods and nothing has helped,” she said.
For more than 100 years, ThedaCare™ has been committed to finding a better way to deliver serious and complex healthcare to patients throughout Northeast Wisconsin. The organization serves over 200,000 patients annually and employs more than 6,700 healthcare professionals throughout the region. ThedaCare has seven hospitals located in Appleton, Neenah, Berlin, Waupaca, Shawano, New London and Wild Rose as well as 32 clinics in nine counties. ThedaCare is the first in Wisconsin to be a Mayo Clinic Care Network Member, giving our specialists the ability to consult with Mayo Clinic experts on a patient’s care. ThedaCare is a non-profit healthcare organization with a level II trauma center, comprehensive cancer treatment, stroke and cardiac programs as well as a foundation dedicated to community service. ThedaCare Regional Cancer Center in Appleton opened in February 2016. For more information, visit www.thedacare.org or follow ThedaCare on Facebook and Twitter.