BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - More and more chronic pain sufferers are turning to needles to feel better. Dry needling has been around for several years, but there's a new surge in popularity as more physical therapy clinics add it to their suite of treatments.
Carol Roshto looks forward to her regular dry needling sessions. She said the therapy has eased months of debilitating pain caused by car accidents and disc problems in her neck.
"I had very bad neck pain. My arm felt like somebody was stabbing it with a knife," she said. "My pain level has probably gone from an eight to a two."
Eric Edmonson, Director of Outpatient Therapy at the NeuroMedical Center Clinic, first offered dry needling about a month ago. It's used alongside other physical therapy techniques.
"I've used it on patients who have headaches all the way down to people who have plantar fasciitis. The results are phenomenal, and patients are ecstatic with the results that they're getting," Edmonson explained.
Dry needling is more targeted than traditional acupuncture, which usually involves several needles along certain lines in the body. Just one needle is used in dry needling, and it's put directly into a trigger point in the affected muscle. Muscle tightness often leads to compression and irritation of the nerves exiting the spine. That can lead to secondary dysfunction like carpal tunnel, tendonitis, osteoarthritis and a range of other problems.
"You can actually feel that tissue tightening up on that needle. It's a little rough in there," Edmonson said during Roshto's latest treatment.
The therapist moves the needle back and forth to cause a twitch response that releases the muscle. Edmonson said he can usually feel the muscle give way underneath his fingers. The process is not painful for most patients but can cause a little soreness.
Roshto was initially a skeptic and was considering surgery on her neck. She thinks these 20-minute dry needling sessions will postpone that for at least five years.
"It's been great," she said. "My whole demeanor – just – life is good again."
Dry needling is covered by some insurance companies depending how it's classified and billed.
Some patients need weekly sessions, while others come once a month. The physical therapist will do an initial assessment to come up with the best plan.
The NeuroMedical Center Clinic offers dry needling in Baton Rouge and Gonzales. Call (225) 768-2050 for more information.