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Dry needling for back pain: 4 top benefits



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Did you know that around 16 million adults experience chronic back pain? It can be a debilitating condition that affects everyday activities. Lifting heavy objects, walking and even lying down can be uncomfortable if you’re dealing with back pain. Symptoms of back pain can be extensive and include:

  • Pain while bending or lifting.
  • Pain while sitting, standing or lying down.
  • Having a stiff back, especially in the morning.
  • Radiating pain.
  • Pain that disappears and reappears.
  • Numbness or tingling around the back.

There are many different treatment methods for back pain, but there’s one that you might not think of right away. Dry needling can be an effective method for treating back pain because it can treat tissue that cannot be reached externally. With dry needling, your physical therapist can target trigger points and tense muscles beneath the skin to bring you relief. 

Benefits of dry needling for back pain

Dry needling has many benefits, especially for spinal or back pain issues. Temporary pain relief and long-term healing are just a few of the things dry needling can offer people who suffer from chronic pain. Let’s take a look at some of the most common benefits dry needling can offer:

  • Pain relief — One of the main goals physical therapists have with dry needling is to help reduce pain. With back pain, dry needling can be especially useful in pain reduction because the thin, hollow needles reach tissue that your physical therapist is able to access externally. When the needles penetrate the affected muscle or tissue, that can also encourage your body to release endorphins. This rush of endorphins can offer immediate pain relief, and targeting specific trigger points can also help relieve long-term pain as well.
  • Muscle function — Back pain can make it more difficult for you to move and have proper control of your muscles. Dry needling can help increase your muscle activation and function by stimulating the nervous system. Additionally, as dry needling reduces your overall pain levels, it may become easier to move and complete additional exercises and stretches that can help those muscles get back in shape.
  • Reduced inflammation — The thin, hollow needles used in dry needling create tiny lesions in the muscle. These lesions can trigger the body’s natural anti-inflammatory response. This can decrease inflammation, increase blood flow, and promote healing in the muscles and tissue in your back. Stimulating your body to heal itself can also decrease your recovery time and make it easier for you to get back to your regular level of activity.
  • Improved motion — If you’re dealing with a lot of pain and inflammation in your back, you’re less likely to move because you don’t want to irritate any painful muscles. Your muscles may also be too tight and tense to allow you to move properly even if you try. Because dry needling can offer relief from some of those symptoms, it may become easier to move and stretch your back without fear of pain. Additionally, dry needling can help break up adhesions and other scar tissue that may be restricting your movement. 

Back pain doesn’t have to stop you from doing the things you love. Dry needling is an excellent physical therapy technique that can help you address your pain so you can get back to doing the things you love without discomfort.

What is dry needling?

Dry needling uses thin, hollow needles that are inserted directly into the affected muscles and tissue. The goal of this treatment is to cause the muscle to spasm and release, which can reduce pain and increase mobility. There are a variety of dry needling techniques that your physical therapist may use depending on your condition and needs. Here are a few common methods your physical therapist may try to treat your back pain:

  • Trigger point dry needling — A trigger point is a highly sensitive point in the muscle that can cause referred pain. This means that the pain you feel may be coming from a different source than where you feel it. With trigger point dry needling, your physical therapist will target the trigger point or source of your pain with the goal of stimulating the muscle to offer pain relief.
  • Deep dry needling — This form of dry needling can be especially helpful for spine-related issues. Deep dry needling involves needles that are longer than standard dry needles to reach deeper areas that may be causing you pain. 
  • Superficial dry needling — This form of dry needling focuses on the opposite of deep dry needling. Your physical therapist will target trigger points in the myofascial tissue that connects your bones, muscles and joints. With superficial needling, the needle is inserted just under the skin and stops before it reaches the muscle. This causes the muscle to reflex, which can help release tension and increase mobility.

Your physical therapist will assess your condition to determine what type of dry needling may be the most effective for your back pain. This method of treatment can offer both short-term and long-term pain relief as well as increased mobility.

At REPAIR SI, our physical therapists are highly trained in dry needling as a method of reducing back pain. They can also incorporate dry needling into a larger treatment plan for your back pain that includes other physical therapy techniques.

Don’t let back pain control your life. When you’re ready to address your pain, contact our team today for more information on dry needling or to schedule an initial appointment.