What is it? Dry needling is a highly effective form of treatment for a multitude of musculoskeletal and neuromuscular conditions. It is not appropriate for all conditions or pathologies and the use of the technique will be at the discretion of your chiropractor.
There are many techniques of dry needling that are due to the variety of the individual intent of the professional/practitioner producing the service. So really, how dry needling is executed comes down to training and intent. Some practitioners focus a great deal, if not entirely, on muscle tissues due to their training philosophy and intent.
If you can imagine acupuncture as a textbook, one of those chapters in that book would be about the technique dealing with muscles aberrant function and pain. This technique has been somewhat imitated minus the initial intent. The technique may be similar or slightly different. One thing is for sure, the intent can be drastically different. Acupuncturists intent follows the understanding of ancient Asians description of “Chi”, “Ki” or energy. Physical therapist, medical doctors and some chiropractor’s intent of dry needling is simply to restore normal function and feel to a pathologic muscle. Here at Dr. Elkins office, our technique is so refined and unique that we call it, Neuro-Needling.
How does it work? Dry needling is NOT acupuncture (traditional Chinese medicine); it is based on neuroanatomy and modern scientific studies of the musculoskeletal and neuromuscular systems. A very fine filament needle is inserted through the skin and into the deeper tissues that are considered trigger points to your pain. Dry needling works by causing a micro lesion within the pathological tissue thus breaking up shortened tissues, inhibiting a reflex arc from the nervous system to the tissue, normalizing the inflammatory response, and centrally mediating the pain. This mechanical and neuromuscular effect provides an environment that enhances the body’s ability to heal which ultimately reduces pain.
What conditions can be treated? Conditions include, but are not limited to neck, back, shoulder/arm pain (tennis elbow, carpal tunnel, golfer’s elbow), headaches to include secondary effects of migraines and tension-type headaches, jaw pain, buttock pain and leg pain (sciatica, hamstring strains, calf-tightness/spams, etc.)
Is the procedure painful? We use disposable one-time use needles. The fine filament needles are very thin, solid, and flexible, which allows for the needle to be pushed through the skin versus cutting into the skin. This helps reduce any discomfort that may occur with the procedure. Sometimes people will feel a small “prick” but goes away almost instantly. We pride ourselves, which shows in our technique, that most experience a completely pain-free procedure. However, some soreness or ache of the muscle may be felt afterwards but is very uncommon with our technique.
How will I feel after the dry needling treatment? This will vary but many patients experience immediate relief of their symptoms and an increase in range of motion. Soreness can also be a common response from the needling but does not occur with all people. Some individuals may experience an achiness or soreness the next day. Mild bruising may also occur but is rare. The soreness, if present will typically last 24-48 hours. Application of ice on the bruise or sore areas and some normal movement will be beneficial to help ease some of the soreness.
It is uncommon but possible that the treatment may temporarily increase your symptoms. This is not unusual but if this continues past the 1-2-day window, inform Dr. Elkins’ office. This does not mean that needling will not be beneficial to your condition.
Can I continue to get Chiropractic adjustments or other treatments? Yes, your personalized chiropractic care plan will still integrate traditional chiropractic adjustments for subluxation. Dry needling is just an additional element of the treatment program.
How many treatments will I need? This will vary from person to person, depending on the severity of the condition. Most only require one visit, but some will have to return for another visit. The typical follow up treatment is approximately 3 months. Remember we are attempting to cause neurological, mechanical, and biochemical changes without any pharmacological means. Dr. Elkins will give you more insight after your evaluation.
What should I do to prepare for the treatment? Wear loose fitting clothing, shorts, tank-tops, etc. for easy access to your painful areas. If you forget these items, we do have shorts and gowns for you to change and use while you are here. Be well hydrated before and after the treatment.
What should/can I do after treatment, what should I avoid? Our recommendation is typically to apply ice to the region that was treated if you experience any soreness and perform some gentle stretches/movement. Avoid anything to strenuous on the area treated for about the first 48 hours.
Is dry needling covered by my insurance? Unfortunately, Dr. Elkins office is not accepting insurance for Neuro Needling Treatments. However, there is a small exam required before moving forward with the Neuro Needle Treatment that we will happily bill to Blue Cross Blue Shield or Cigna. The treatment has not been assigned an ICD-10 code by the American Medical Association yet. As we are expecting an assigned code sometime in the near future, but to bill this to an unestablished code is considered billing error. We do not want to have unexpected fees forwarded to the patient up to 7 years later after the procedure. We don’t like surprises like that and know you don’t either, that is why it is currently a cash-based service. Insurance usually requires a referral from a physician or some other form of prerequisite before approving the service, so we have found that it is much more convenient and more affordable for the patient to have direct access to Dr. Elkins and his services without third party obstruction.
If you have any further questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact Dr. Elkins.