(COLUMBUS, Ohio) – Physical therapists often use massage techniques to stimulate tissue and release tight muscles, but needles are being used to go straight to the source of pain in an increasingly popular practice called dry needling. Very thin needles are inserted into the tissue and manipulated to make the muscle relax and alleviate pain.
“Dry needling has been growing in popularity for years for a number of conditions, and while patients often swear by it, we wanted some sort of proof that it works,” said Matt Briggs, physical therapist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
Briggs is conducting a study in which dry needling will be used on 120 patients with what is often termed “runner’s knee”, a common condition that causes persistent pain in and around the kneecap. “Runner’s knee can be very hard to treat because there is often no identifiable anatomical source for the pain and may often be referred from muscles. In that sense, a therapy like dry needling may be a great option, which is why we are conducting the study.”
Dry needling consists of small, monofilament needles that are administered directly into the tissue and manipulated to make the muscle relax for pain relief. This technique is used to treat dysfunctions in skeletal muscle and connective tissue to help diminish pain and reduce or restore impairments of body structure and function.
“There’s a theory that dry needling changes the way nerves and muscles function, and may even change the way our spinal cord and brain perceives pain,” said Briggs. “Those are all things we hope to take a good look at during the study.”