Ester Marsh column: What is dry needling?

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 28, 2021

When you hear dry needling, do you think it is the same as acupuncture? Acupuncture is also the use of tiny needles, but it’s a key component in traditional Chinese medicine. Dry needling is part of modern western medicine. I am going to talk about dry needling and its benefits.

Dry needling works without medication or injection into the trigger points of the affected area(s). A trigger point is a small knot (Myofascial trigger point) located within tight bands of muscle fibers. A physical therapist, who obtained additional education and training for dry needling, uses dry needling to release or inactivate trigger points to relieve pain or improve range of motion.

The benefits from dry needling are pain reduction, improved range of motion, promotes faster healing, improves blood circulation, among other benefits. There are few side effects — after a session you might experience fatigue, maybe numbness and occasional pain. As you have read in previous columns, I am a big believer in alternative medicine. Even growing up, my mom and doctors practiced alternative medicine before they would prescribe pharmaceutical medicine. Many times, “old-fashioned” treatment would work. And, of course, at times prescribed medicine was necessary. Living in the U.S. for 33 years, I continued that. I try some homeopathic and alternative ways first before going for the pharmaceuticals.

I have received great benefits over the years from reflexology because I have had many injuries and issues. Reflexology is a systematic, manual stimulation of the reflex maps located on the feet, hands and outer ear that resembles a shape of the human body. It has benefited me tremendously, especially in the first week and half after my surgery. I was familiar with dry needling, since both my younger sister and oldest daughter had great benefits with it. Last week was the first time I have ever tried it. Delaine Fowler from ATP physical therapy here in Salisbury recommended it because after my surgery I couldn’t open my mouth very wide. It was “locked up.” Three hours in surgery with my mouth wide open was not kind to my jaw. I decided to try it, since it would be very helpful to eat when I can chew properly!

I met with Kim Kennerly PT, DPT, and after just one dry needling treatment, I was able to open my mouth fully! I can’t keep it open very long yet, but the ability to do it after just one treatment blew my mind. Of course, I had to share on social media and received so many responses of people who had great responses with dry needling for all kinds of areas of the body. I am going back since my neck and the removal of 42 lymph nodes has gotten super tight. My jaw can use at least one or two more treatments so I can hold my mouth open for an extended period. All in all, I was super excited that I found another great and alternative way to get my body back to pre-surgery shape. Find out if your physical therapist or chiropractor has dry needling or check out Kim at Fowler’s ATP physical therapy. And I hope you will get the same amazing benefits from dry needling I received!

Ester H. Marsh is health and fitness director of the JF Hurley Family YMCA.

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