The opioid epidemic has reached monumental proportions in the U.S.
According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), in 2016, 66% of fatalities due to drug overdose were caused by prescription opioids–or narcotic painkillers such a oxycodone, Percocet, and Vicodin.
Physicians are moving towards alternative, non-pharmacologic ways to manage a patient’s pain, rather than relying on these highly addictive prescription drugs.
One alternative therapy proving effective for chronic muscle pain is a treatment known as dry needling.
Dry needling is best for alleviating discomfort due to a common muscular pain condition known as myofascial pain. Myofascial pain is a chronic muscle pain syndrome characterized by areas of hyperirritable and painful muscle fibers. It commonly affects the neck and back, but can affect all muscular body parts.
Dry needling is typically performed by a physical therapist inserting a very thin needle into the affected muscle tissue, at strategic painful “trigger points” under the skin. The act of inserting the needle can reduce the muscle pain by various mechanisms: reducing muscle tightness, increasing blood flow, and reducing the levels of neurotransmitters which increase pain.
In most patients, pain is significantly reduced and function is restored to the muscle that is being treated.
Dry needling should not be confused with acupuncture, which is steeped in ancient Eastern medicine. Dry needling is a more modern form of Western medicine often coupled with a coordinating physical therapy or rehabilitation program.
Additionally, most insurance plans cover the procedure under physical therapy benefits.
Texas Orthopedics offers dry needling for myofascial pain at several of our Central Texas locations. Please contact us if you have questions about it or would like to schedule an appointment with a specialist.
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(Adapted from NPR-National Public Radio)