What to Expect After a Dry Needling Treatment

dry needling what to expect recoveryIf you have never had Dry Needling therapy before you may want to read through the frequently asked questions below to familiarize yourself with what to expect after treatment:

What should I do after dry needling?

Generally you will not need to do anything after treatment except rest.  Simply drink plenty of water and get a solid night of sleep. It is best not to workout after dry needling, but walking or any gentile movement is helpful to promote blood circulation.  If muscle soreness is excessive then applying heat or alternating ice & heat can be helpful.

In the traditional approach to Dry Needling (from Janet Travell, MD), dry needling was followed by heat and gentle stretching to the effected area.  While this may improve the effectiveness of a dry needling treatment, it is not entirely necessary.  Do not overstretch after a treatment as this could stir up more inflammation and prolong the healing time.

How long does it take to see results with Dry Needling treatments?

It usually takes 2-3 visits for lasting changes to hold.  Usually the muscles will relax at first then fall back into old patterns of pain and dysfunction. Therefore, there is a cumulative effect over multiple treatments where the neuro-muscular patterns are retrained.  After a certain number of treatments the pain cycle is broken and proper muscle and nerve function is restored.

What are the other possible side-effects of treatment?

The majority of patients report having sore muscles after dry needling. The targeted muscles may feel like they are a bit bruised but also more relaxed at the same time. It is common for the soreness to last between a few hours and a few days.  Drinking plenty of water will speed up recovery.  Soaking in a hot bath for 20 minutes (with 2 cups of Epsom salts) should also help.

Local bruising from the treatment is possible, but not a cause for concern.  Any bruising will disappear quickly and should be restricted to large muscle groups such as the shoulders.

It is common to feel tired, emotional, “out of it” after treatment. This is a normal response that can last up to 1-2 hours after treatment.  Most likely this feeling will pass quickly and you will sleep better than usual following treatment.

It should be noted that there are times when treatment may actually increase pain symptoms. This is normal and part of the body’s healing cycle.  The normal healing cycle is pro-inflammatory at first then anti-inflammatory later. If worsening of symptoms continue over 2 days after treatment, keep note of it, as this can help your acupuncturist adjust your treatment approach.

 

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