In mid-April I went to Brighton, Colorado, for KinetaCore’s Level 1 Functional Dry Needling course for continuing education and had a great time. Dry needling is a relatively new treatment technique for physical therapists in Illinois, employing a thin filiform needle to penetrate skin to affect a change in underlying tissues relating to neuromusculoskeletal conditions, pain, movement impairments, or disability. Simply put, we use a very thin needle to stimulate the muscles and nervous system to help reduce pain and improve function. This technique allows us to target areas difficult to palpate by hand.
Dry needling can be a very effective tool to relieve painful trigger points and soft tissue restrictions and improve poor muscular coordination (to name just a few applications). When incorporated into an individualized physical therapy plan of care, dry needling provides an efficient way to quickly and effectively release tension and relieve pain, sometimes described as “hitting reset” for a dysfunctional or painful muscle. This course teaches that dry needling is just a treatment technique to address a trigger point and that the most important thing for maintaining any improvements are the things you do afterward. Much like stretching, you need to put your newly-achieved range of motion to use in an exercise or movement in order for your brain to remember it long-term. If you don’t use it, you lose it. As physical therapists, we try to impart this crucial concept: consciously using new-found range of motion or postures after therapy sessions leads to more lasting changes and improvement.
Illinois requires physical therapists be licensed for at least one year, complete 54 hours of face to face training, and have 200 documented treatment sessions prior to treating patients. The class I took in April counts as 27 face to face hours and I am in the midst of getting my practice sessions completed; stay tuned for more information about dry needling and continuing education in the coming months.