HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) - With efforts across the country in place to reduce the number of opioids prescribed, physical therapists are using a new technique to help patients with chronic pain.
Dry needling is a technique where very thin needles are specifically placed into tight areas and knots of a muscle called trigger points. It can relieve a wide variety of conditions - like neck pain, headaches and muscle strains.
It's called dry needling because no medication is injected into the skin. The technique is often mistaken for acupuncture, a traditional form of Chinese medicine. Dry needling is often performed to relieve "myo-fascial" pain, a chronic and painful condition that affects the connective tissues that covers the muscles. Once the needle is inserted into the muscle, it can reduce or eliminate pain by causing the muscle to relax and stimulate the body's normal healing response.
Treatment can take just three to five sessions to help relieve symptoms, while others can feel immediate pain relief and improved mobility after just one.
“I try to dry needle as many people as I can. I really like it, I enjoy it. I think it lessens the treatment time,” said Dr. Gena Howlett, a physical therapist at Tidelands Health. She added dry needling is typically not painful because the needles are about eight times smaller than those used for vaccines.
With the increase in popularity of dry needling, Tidelands Health has now expanded its services for patients from two to eight locations.