Dry Needling for Beginners: What You Need to Know

Dry Needling for BeginnersNo one can deny how valuable physical therapists are. The once delegated-only-to-pain-management health professionals are now treating various kinds of health-related ailments and conditions. But then again, the primary reason why people flock to physical therapists nowadays is for the management of their pain. Physical therapists are more than willing to rehabilitate and patients so they can return to their normal lives, functioning as normal as possible.

However, physical therapy is often non-invasive. The invasive procedures are often delegated to physicians and the likes. But this somehow has been changing in recent years. Many physical therapists are now open to add a few invasive procedures in their list of services. Dry needling is one. More and more are embracing such kind of procedure and integrating this as part of the services they offer.

There are more states now that allow physical therapists to perform dry needling on their patients. More have seen how this technique can help treat the physical therapy patients with certain conditions in a fast and efficient way.

Dry Needling for Beginners

Many might not be familiar about dry needling. What is it, anyway? Why the controversy? Dry needling is the term given to that technique wherein the therapist uses needles that pierce the skin to inactivate or inactivate trigger points and the likes in order to normalize the function of a certain muscle or joint and also to reduce the pain felt by the patient. Dry needling, in effect, releases the pain in the muscle and reduces the swelling and tension in that certain muscle area.

You can say that the roots of needling are pretty ancient. However, the techniques and approach used is based on Western medicine. But for physical therapists and physical therapy, in general, dry needling is a bit new. For starters, this is one technique that has not seen the lights of a formal PT learning program. Most schools of physical therapy literally do not teach such technique to their student; if they do, it is an elective.

One of the reasons why this technique has become controversial is the fact that some physical therapists and other professionals believe that PT practice should be non-invasive. On the other hand, others believe that the physical therapists are the professionals most adept in handling such technique as they are more trained in palpating tissues and the likes.

Dry needling is not for the whole body

Dry needling is most often done on the musculoskeletal system of the human body. There are certain areas of the human body that the physical therapist can work on most often with.

  • Arm area and hand as in the case of the carpal tunnel syndrome, or the elbow as in the case of the tennis and golfer’s elbow syndrome
  • Back area
  • Neck area
  • Shoulder area
  • The buttocks
  • The head
  • The jaw
  • The leg area to ease the patient from pain

What do you want to know more about dry needling

  • The patient hardly feels the needle during its insertion

The twitch, a sign that the trigger point has been located, may be painful to some patients but the pain felt is really tolerable. The pain can range from feeling of being a bit electrically shocked to having cramps.

  • Needling takes less than an hour. In some cases, it be as short as thirty minutes.
  • The number of sessions is based on how the patient can endure the pain. Most of the time, this kind of technique has fewer sessions than the traditional approach in physical therapy.

How would you prepare if you want to add this service to your list of services in your practice?

  • Know where you live

There are certain states that do not allow dry needling to be practiced by physical therapist. Know if the state where you do your practice is one of them.

  • Take dry needling courses.

Make sure that the course you would be taking is accredited. No one is too old to practice dry needling. Even physical therapists that have been practicing for more than two decades can benefit from these courses.

  • Once you have the education needed, you need to purchase some of the following materials for your dry needling services.
    • Bandages – There are some rare cases that patients bleed so you need something to stop the small bleeding.
    • Cotton balls
    • Gloves
    • Needles- Make sure you have lots of stock.
    • Proper disposal bins of used needles
    • Make sure that dry needling is performed in a sanitary place. There is no special room needed to perform such technique. In fact, your regular therapy room is sufficient enough. The manual therapy code for dry needling is CPT code 97140 for your insurance reimbursements.
    • You are in luck because only a few physical therapists use this technique for now. This also allows you give more options for your patients or clients.
    • You are only giving half to your patients if you are just proving them solutions using dry needling alone. The patient being alleviated from pain is the main reason why you should do dry needling. After the pain is reduced or diminished, now what? You still have to follow conventional physical therapy combine with dry needing to give the best results.
    • Dry needling may require referrals from physicians in many states that allow physical therapists to practice dry needling.  Many states also require that the referral indicate the direction for dry needling. Also, physical therapists are also required to indicate how the patient fared with the dry needling procedures after the session with the physical therapist.
    • There should also a patient consent form, indicating that it is not acupuncture that the patient is receiving. Included in that consent form is the explanation of what dry needling is in layman’s terms as well as the risks and benefits of such procedure. The copy of the consent form must also be given to the patient.
    • You have to remember that dry needling is an advanced skill. You need additional training on this so be prepared for some studying. There is at least 54 hours of practice training required for you to be able to pursue dry needling as part of your physical therapy services.

There is no doubt that many physical therapists can attest to the effectiveness of dry needling. Are you willing to be part of that group? What do you think?

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