While acupuncture therapy and dry needle therapy may appear to be similar treatment techniques, how each works and the effects they offer for pain relief are quite different. Healing Arts Chiropractic & Wellness offers both treatments to help you achieve balance and minimize pain.
What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture, which originated by Eastern practitioners in China thousands of years ago, is based on energy (Qi) flows pathways, or meridians, that exist throughout the body, just below the skin. It is believed that pain occurs when this Qi gets “stuck.”
Acupuncture therapy is the application of thin, sterile stainless-steel needles along these meridian pathways to release stuck Qi energy flows. Balancing the Qi flow throughout the body ensures that the body is functioning without pain.
Western practitioners believe that the use of thin, sterile stainless-steel needles also stimulate nerves, tendons, and muscles. This stimulation increases blood flow that, in turn, initiates healing and causes the pituitary gland to release endorphins, which help relieve pain.
Acupuncture therapy is used to treat a wide range of ailments including acute and chronic pain relief of neuro-musculoskeletal conditions such as headaches/migraines, arthritis, frozen shoulder, sciatica, rib/breathing pain, golf/tennis elbow, knee pain, and plantar fasciitis. Also, most patients, become very relaxed during and following acupuncture treatment, which has a cumulative effect of decreasing chronic anxiety conditions.
Acupuncture has a powerful and rapid response in releasing sinus pressure and pain, as well as digestive complaints. Patient quality of life can improve dramatically using acupuncture treatment for symptoms of fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, Bell’s Palsy, Parkinson’s, and cancer. Acupuncture is also helpful in decreasing food cravings that lead to weight loss, smoking cessation, and helping patients to break addictive habits.
What is Dry Needle Therapy?
Dry needling is a unique treatment option that stimulates muscle trigger points to treat chronic muscle pain. Using fine, sterile stainless steel needles, the procedure is used to deactivate a myofascial trigger point (MTrP) of knotted or hard muscle or tissue. These trigger points are specific, hyper-irritated spots located in a taut band of skeletal muscle that can cause headaches or musculoskeletal pain throughout the body.
While there are very few side effects, the dry needling causes muscles to cramp and release, in reaction to the needle, which can result in soreness or a tiny amount of bleeding or bruising at the treated site.
Acupuncture and Dry Needle Therapy Treatments
For acupuncture therapy, individually sealed and sterilized needles are inserted at specific points along the meridians throughout the body. The needles are very thin (the size of a horsehair), so there is little, if any, discomfort. Anywhere from five to 20 needles are used in a typical treatment.
Patients may notice in some points a mild aching sensation when a needle reaches the correct depth because it has reached Qi, which is the circulating life force. To stimulate the points for greatest pain removal effect, needles may be gently twirled, or mild electrical stimulation may be used. Use of an ionizing heat lamp also helps the flow of Qi and generates an overall sense of relaxation.
In acupuncture therapy, some points where needles are inserted are removed from the area of pain. Points below elbows, knees, and those along the ear are some of the most powerful and effective sites for needle placement. Needles remain in place for 15-30 minutes.
For dry needle therapy, individually sealed and sterilized needles are inserted in or near the tight muscle area or myofascial trigger point. The number of needles used depends on the size of the site, and there is little feeling when the needle is inserted. Once the needles reach the trigger point, they are removed once the reaction of the muscle subsides.
After both treatments, most patients note an immediate sense of relaxation and pain relief. Other times a positive effect is observed the following day after a night’s sleep.
All used needles are placed safely into the biohazard sharps container.
Treatments are typically recommended once or twice a week for a few weeks with up to six to 12 treatments over a few months, depending on the severity of the condition. Maintenance sessions are recommended to maintain optimal lasting relief.
Chiropractic, Acupuncture & Dry Needling Treatment
Patients who present with musculoskeletal pain typically have a better response to treatment when they receive chiropractic care first, followed by an acupuncture or dry needle therapy treatment. Where the chiropractic adjustment balances and aligns the structure of the body, a follow-up acupuncture or dry needle treatment then treat any residual pain. Performing the acupuncture treatment also helps patients to relax, as it is working on the energetic body, which makes for a very satisfactory treatment protocol.
Contact Dr. Ruggiero at the Boulder Healing Arts Chiropractic & Wellness Center on 720-328-6494 at any time to discuss what treatments might help you and schedule an appointment.