Integrative dry needling has gained significant attention in recent years, and physical therapist Ryan Crandall of Defiance Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine, located at 851 S. Clinton St., said he knows why: it works.
“We have had some unbelievable cases where our patients are noticing incredible benefits from it,” Crandall said. “”Dry needling has been a huge adjunct to what we can offer our patients.”
Dry needling uses small — very small, 0.25 millimeters in diameter, compared to a roughly 2.6 millimeter medical syringe — needles that are inserted directly into the deeper tissues that are considered trigger points for pain. It works by causing a micro-lesion within the tissue, thus breaking up shortened tissues, inhibiting a reflex arc from the nervous system to the tissue, normalizing the inflammatory response and centrally mediating the pain.
While acupuncture (traditional Chinese medicine) aims to alleviate pain by opening up an individual’s energy flow, or Qi, dry needling is based on neuroanatomy and modern scientific study of the musculoskeletal and neuromuscular systems, and practitioners of dry needling attempt to release tension from knots and pressure points in the muscles.
“Basically, we are utilizing what we know about our bodies’ inflammatory response to elicit a reaction that creates more blood flow to the targeted tissue,” Crandall said.
Five of the practice’s six physical therapists are now credentialed in dry needling. In addition to Crandall, they include physical therapists Kevin McCann, Sara Dishong, Julie McCann and Megan Vogelsong, with a sixth therapist expected to be credentialed next year.
The treatment is offered at both the Defiance location (851 S. Clinton St.) and the Bryan office (1215 S. Portland St.). Dry-needling training consists of a 27-hour continuing-education course and certification through Integrative Dry Needling (IDN). The practice has been offering dry needling since 2017.
Also contributing to the increasing popularity of dry needling, Crandall said, is the fact that treatment by a credentialed dry needling therapist is now being covered by many insurance companies.
“Under most circumstances, it should be covered through our patient’s insurance plan,” Crandall said. “Due to higher deductibles and uninsured patients, we have several patients who want to receive dry needling on a cash-pay basis, and we can accommodate that as well.”
Dry needling can be used to treat a variety of conditions, including neck pain, back pain, rotator cuff pathology, bursitis, knee pain, tendinitis, tennis/golfer’s elbow, jaw pain, sciatica, muscle strains, stenosis, arthritis, headaches, hip pain, carpal tunnel and more.
“The most important point that we can make is that dry needling in our practice is an adjunct to what we do as physical therapists,” Crandall said. “Ultimately, our goal is to utilize dry needling in conjunction with therapeutic exercises, manual therapy and education regarding the origin of their pain and the prevention of future occurrences.”
For the most part, Crandall said, “it’s been very successful in treating people’s pain.”
“I try not to act like it’s a magic wand, but in reality, sometimes it has been,” Crandall said. “We have had some cases where people have had chronic pain for years and they say that this is the best they have felt in a long time afterwards.”