I just tried dry needling

My calves tend towards being tight, and my muscles have a bad habit of shortening and failing to move, stretch, and glide against each other as they should. It causes me a lot of problems, to the point that I have a handicap tag for times when it gets bad enough that I can barely walk.

I’ve been in physical therapy, and it helps a lot. My therapist often does soft tissue work (i.e., very aggressive massage) to break up fascia and loosen muscles.

Today she asked if I was up for trying needling, which is supposed to stimulate very specific myofascial trigger points (as opposed to trying to push on them from the outside with massage). The idea is that this will help release areas of muscle that are chronically tight.

Well, she did one poke, and I said, “I need you to stop. Now.” I usually do OK with the pain of massage and can cope with breathing or mental tricks. This, was something else entirely. It wasn’t terribly painful, but I think I can say with confidence that it feels exactly like someone is poking a nerve center with a needle, then wiggling it around.

I broke out in a sweat all over, my eyes teared up, and my upper lip started to tingle like I was going to pass out. It was both incredibly uncomfortable and rather embarrassing.

It did seem to help - I could go a lot lower in a squat than I could before the procedure. I haven’t decided if I will want to try it again after mentally girding up for it, but at this point I think it’s doubtful. Then again, if I had pain and dysfunction that didn’t respond to other approaches, I might brave it.

What’s the difference between “dry needling” and acupuncture? :confused:

Depth, if I understand the OP aright.

Huge fan-HUGE!! I was so sick and tired of silly PT exercises for my fractured elbow, and ready to quit, when the PT suggested this. And it helped immensely!!

No pain, but yes, you feel the nerve being stimulated, which can be oddly pleasurable, kind of strange or a teeny bit painful. But no more silly exercises-the arm didn’t feel any different right after the treatment, but the next day, amazing difference. No more “dead” feeling in the joint-it was as though the nerves or whatever, came alive again.

Is the technique science-based, anecdotal or woo?

Answering my own question now that I’m at a full console… about what I expected. Scienced-up chiropractic/acupuncture based on one book and next to no clinical studies, permitted only where it hasn’t been brought to legal attention (which results in bans or stringent limits).

Let chiros and PTs stick needles in my nerve clusters? Pass, thanks, although I do understand chronic pain can drive sufferers to try anything for relief.

Yeah, the more I read about it, the more woo-ish it sounds. I mean, I do see a reasonable basis for the idea that localized spasm and tightness can cause pain, and my experience (which I grant is not data) is that massage that aims to forcibly break down sticky fascia and make muscles let go allows my joints to work better and gets rid of my pain.

So the idea of getting inside the muscle and being able to target the specific knot, rather than just trying to push on it through layers of skin and stuff, didn’t immediately sound ridiculous to me.

But as I researched a bit more to answer Dorjän, I learned that there’s something like a 90% overlap between “trigger points” and acupuncture meridians, and that the genesis of dry needling does seem awfully entangled with acupuncture. That definitely pings the bullshit detector.