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Dry Needling Offers Relief for Overused Muscles

Physical therapist at Blue Ridge Physical Therapy applies dry needling to a patient’s back to stimulate “trigger points” in the muscle tissue.

Dry needling may sound painful, but it is actually a safe and effective treatment used by physical therapists to reduce muscle pain. Not to be confused with acupuncture, trigger point dry needling is a modern treatment that uses thin filiform needles to stimulate “trigger points” in muscle tissue.

It works by increasing blood flow to injured muscle tissue and loosening knots. Patients often don’t even feel the needle enter the body. The procedure is quick, with patients feeling relief in as few as 10 minutes.

Dry needling has become increasingly popular. To meet demand, Blue Ridge Physical Therapy, with clinics in both Warrenton and Gainesville, now has three therapists who are certified in the specialized treatment. All three — Andrew Carter, PT, DPT, ATC, Rachel Reilly, PT, DPT, and Samantha Adornetto, PT, DPT — have a Doctorate in Physical Therapy.

“Dry needling is most effective,” says Dr. Carter, “when used within a comprehensive physical therapy program and with corrective exercises to restore length in the affected muscle tissue. It is not a technique that is used to replace physical therapy or exercises.”

Dr. Carter oversees the Spine Center at Blue Ridge Orthopaedic & Spine Center in Warrenton.

“I have seen many positive outcomes with dry needling for patients experiencing neuromusculoskeletal pain and movement impairments,” says Dr. Adornetto. “Dry needling, in combination with muscle retraining, brings the best results to improve participation in sports and activities of daily living.”

A typical patient is somebody suffering from chronic overuse injuries resulting from their job, playing sports, or everyday life. In order to determine if a patient is eligible for dry needling, an examination and evaluation by a physical therapist is imperative. “This will include reviewing the patient’s past medical history, conducting a standardized systems review, and performing selected tests and measures to identify potential and existing movement-related disorders. In addition, the physical therapist will screen for contraindications and relative precautions of dry needling such as bleeding disorders or lymphedema,” Dr. Adornetto says.

But first, a patient needs a prescription from their medical doctor and a prescription for physical therapy.

In Virginia, to become certified in dry needling, a physical therapist needs to successfully complete 54 hours of hands-on training. The certification courses focus on clinical application, clinical reasoning and evidence-based practice. To demonstrate competency in the fundamental concepts and techniques of dry needling, a written and practical exam is completed after each course.

In addition to dry needling, Blue Ridge Physical Therapy specializes in physical therapy, occupational therapy, medical nutrition therapy, sports medicine therapy, and orthotic and brace fittings. The team is large and includes therapists with different backgrounds and specialties such as occupational and rehabilitation specialists to fit varying patient medical needs.

For more information, visit www.blueridgeortho.com/physical-therapy.

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