Have you got foot or leg pain?
Do you have tight muscles?
Should you be stretching more?
Sometimes foot and leg pain, such as plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendonitis, is caused by tight muscles higher up in the legs such as your calves, hamstrings and gluteals. Dry needling is a way to lengthen and stretch your muscles which leads to reduced foot and leg pain. The process is often therapeutic, and has also been proven to increase sleep and overall relaxation to achieve a relaxed state of health and wellbeing.
It is essential to correct any underlying biomechanical abnormalities which may be the original cause of your foot pain. However if your pain still persists through corrective footwear, taping, padding, orthotics and offloading then a combination therapy is very effective.
So what exactly is dry needling?
Dry needling targets the myofascial trigger points in your muscles and works by releasing these ‘tight spots’, which results in an improved range of motion and sometimes instant relief. It is important to have a thorough assessment to rule out any sinister pathology with your podiatrist before undertaking a session. A diagnosis/ hypothesis will establish the type, severity and cause of your pain.
During a session, very fine filament needles are placed into your superficial skin with next to no pain. Firstly, they will generate a muscle twitch response which immediately relaxes and desensitises the muscle. Secondly, a release of your bodies own natural neurotransmitting chemicals will be released (such as opoids, enkephalins, serotonin and beta endorphins) which cause overall improved mood and relaxation. Lastly, the needle sets up a potential energy between itself and the surrounding skin. It will take 24-48 hours for this to be restored to normal which is why your muscles may feel tired and sore for a few days afterwards – this is a normal and good response.
Following one session, physical signs such as increased range of motion, increased blood flow and reduced pain can occur within seconds or minutes. More chronic conditions may take several sessions to treat.
Is dry needling and acupuncture the same thing?
No. Dry needling uses modern principles and largely ignores the ancient Chinese medicine belief of Channels (meridians) of achieving ‘Chi’ and flow throughout the body which are derived from the rivers in China. Acupuncture focuses on vital energy connecting the interior of the body with the exterior, where as dry needling is based on modern neurophysiology and anatomy.