Does Dry Needling Really Work For CRPS Pain Relief? Experts Say Yes!
Relief from one of modern medicine’s most challenging nerve diseases is a pin prick away, according to medical experts at the Cleveland Clinic. Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a rare but very real condition that is recognized by the U.S. FDA. This neuro-inflammatory disorder is diagnosed in no less that 200,000 Americans annually. The primary cause of CRPS pain is the misfiring of nerves, which signals intensely high levels of pain to the brain.
CRPS pain usually develops following an injury that is musculoskeletal in nature (injuries to a muscle, bone, tendon, or to blood vessels, nerves and other soft tissue). The injury can be accidental or surgical in nature. It can also follow prolonged immobilization after an injury or physical trauma.
Historically, this difficult to diagnose nerve disorder has been equally difficult to treat. The tendency has been to rely on medications that put the sufferer at risk of dependency. But, now, the therapy known as dry needling has been confirmed to make a significant difference in CRPS pain relief by researchers at some of the most respected medical research facilities in the United States.
The Cleveland Clinic says yes to dry needling for CRPS pain
According to the Cleveland Clinic, “Yes, dry needling for CRPS is particularly effective if there is myofascial (muscle) dysfunction. Treating the myofascial (muscle) dysfunction effectively may reduce the other all effect of CRPS pain.”
But, what exactly is dry needling and how exactly does it help CRPS pain? The National Stem Cell Institute (NSI), one of the leading regenerative clinics in the United States, takes a closer look at this exciting new tool for relieving the intense pain of complex regional pain syndrome.
Dry Needling: What Is It?
Dry needling is a therapy that employs several extremely thin needles. The needles are gently inserted into the skin, stimulating key trigger points. The therapy is becoming more widely available at medical clinics and rehabilitation facilities as confirmation of its effectiveness has grown. Particularly in more advanced clinics that practice a multi-faceted approach to pain therapy, dry needling is used to address the symptoms of a number of diseases and disorders, including CRPS pain and symptoms.
Dry needling helps to release painful muscle co-contractions, including like trigger points. Trigger points are hard knots that form in muscles and cause intense pain. This pain can spread across a large area. The co-contractions common in CRPS pain can be so severe that they can interrupt the simplest of daily activities and chronically affect quality of life.
Dry Needling: What It Is Not
Dry needling is not the same as another needling technique known as wet needling. Wet needling uses hollow-bore needles to deliver corticosteroids, anesthetics, and other medications into key areas. A dry needle is a solid filament. Dry needling works without the insertion of any substance. It is used to address muscle, ligament, and tendon issues. But dry needling can also be used in a medically cosmetic method to address problems with scar tissue and acne.
Dry needling is not acupuncture. Acupuncture is an energy-based therapy that centers on creating balance within the body as a whole. Dry needling is very region-specific, focusing on exact areas of co-contractions like trigger points. For CRPS pain, the results can be significant.
The Science Behind Dry Needling For CRPS Pain
The Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, published findings from some of the best clinical studies to date on the effects of dry needling for symptoms like those involved with CRPS pain. The researchers discovered that dry needle therapy has a high effectiveness rate when it comes to myofascial (muscle) pain. The relief of myofascial pain may have a cascade effect on other symptoms of CRPS.
When used in a suite of therapies that address CRPS pain –such as nutritional counseling, platelet rich plasma and/or stem cell therapy- dry needling can help dramatically restore quality of life to pain sufferers.
Myofascial trigger points are not a symptom of CRPS alone. But those who suffer from complex regional pain syndrome know the debilitating effects of them all too well. Since CRPS can result from muscle injury, the pain of trigger points is an all-too-often symptom. The slightest touch or the gentlest of presses on these trigger points can cause intense pain that may well erupt in other areas as well.
How Dry Needling Therapy Is Done
Whether for CRPS pain or other types of conditions, the basics of dry needling are the same. Here’s the step-by-step breakdown of dry needling therapy:
- The therapist palpates the targeted muscle area to locate the exact point of the hyper-irritation. To palpate is a medical term that simply means the therapist gently makes contact with the patient’s skin in order to feel the precise regions of pain or tenderness. Depending on the location and orientation of the affected muscle, the therapist will either gently pinch the skin between her fingers in order to insert the dry needle, or use her finger or thumb tip to softly but directly press the location of the trigger point.
- While depressing or gently pinching up the skin, the therapist uses her free hand to take up the needle. The needle is sterile and housed inside a small holding tube. The therapist will position the tube over the area in need of therapy, then tap or flick the tube. This drops the dry needle, which slightly penetrates the skin.
- The therapist then guides the needle more directly into the trigger point until she notices resistance at the point, or sees the patient’s natural local twitch response. This is a reflexive action that is triggered by the needle’s penetration. Studies tell us that the local twitch response is an indication of relief or loosening happening within the affected area. When the person being treated has an involuntary twitch response, it’s an indication that the right spot has been hit.
- Once the trigger point is located by the needle, the therapist draws the needle slightly back until it is positioned in tissue directly beneath the skin but still firmly embedded within the skin.
- The needle will then be redirected toward the remaining trigger points as needed.
- Once the needle fully withdraws, the therapist applies pressure directly at the insertion point as an aid in preventing any swelling or soreness that may occur.
What Dry Needling Is Used For
The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), says that trigger points play an important role in many types of illnesses and disorders. These include:
- Tension style headache
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Computer related injury conditions
- Whiplash related conditions
- Spinal dysfunction
- Pelvic pain
- Shingles induced neuralgia
- CRPS pain
- Nocturnal cramping
- Phantom pains
- Disc pathologies
- Joint problems
Dry needling is also used in therapies that address dysfunction occurring in connective tissues. It is used to reduce impairment of body structure and function, helping to promote improved activity and participation.
Three Main Benefits Of Dry Needling
- Pain Reduction
A number of medical studies, including a 2007 study published in the American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, have shown that immediate improvement in conditions like CRPS pain can be achieved by targeting trigger points with dry needle therapy. The 2007 study incorporated fourteen patients who had bilateral shoulder pain (pain in both shoulders) with active myofascial trigger points. Dry needle therapy was applied to one shoulder while the other shoulder served as the control.
Dry needle therapy was shown to increase both active and passive ranges of internal rotation motion within the treated shoulder. The intensity of pain in the shoulder that received the therapy was significantly reduced also.
- Improvement in Movement
Research both past and ongoing tells us that patients who undergo dry needle therapy, paired with therapy designed around movement, report the ability to move more fluidly. In 2010, the journal Acupuncture in Medicine reported on a study that followed four international female volleyball athletes who underwent dry needling while in a month-long intense competitive phase. Three criteria in particular were focused on: range of motion, strength and pain. Assessments were made before and after therapy. Scoring in all three criteria showed measurable improvement following therapy. Of particular note were the athletes’ abilities to continue with overhead activities, proving that dry needle therapy doesn’t result in functional weakness or reduced motion range immediately after therapy.
Experts see similar results in practical applications at physical therapy facilities. This is particularly true in clinics that provide not just medical methods like regenerative medicine, but make up a comprehensive facility that encompasses medical intervention, functional rehabilitation, and nutritional counseling. Taking a three-prong therapy approach has been sown to be a boon to those who suffer from chronic symptoms like CRPS pain.
- Speeding Up Recovery Time
Dry needling helps patients feel pain relief quickly. The majority of patients get relief immediately following their first therapy session. Reports released by the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, tell us that functionality is restored far more rapidly when dry needling is included in patient therapy packages.
A 2012 study published by the Wiley Periodicals specifically focused on the affects of dry needling on CRPS pain and symptoms. The study showed reduction of warmth, redness, and swelling after each dry needling session. This, in turn, enabled pain-free passive mobilization. Range of motion also improved, whether the therapy was done for CRPS pain for the limbs, hands/fingers, or feet/toes. All patients in the study progressed from total disability to full motor recovery, and were able to take up their usual activities thereafter.
Dry Needling: Is It Right For Everyone?
It is the rare patient that does not benefit from dry needle therapy. By and large, it is people who have a significant needle phobia or other anxiety issues regarding needles who may not be good candidates for it. Additionally, dry needling is not recommended for patients under the age of 12.
Side effects are infrequent, but in cases where patients experience them, they tend to be the following:
- Pain during initial needle insertion
- Muscle soreness
As with any therapeutic procedure, dry needling should be done by a skilled physical therapist. The National Stem Cell Institute (NSI) strongly recommends that those interested in dry needling do thorough research into the facilities being considered. That being stated, dry needling as a therapy for CRPS pain and symptoms –and the other many conditions that are routinely treated through dry needle therapy- is a non-drug alternative that has now been well-established as safe and effective. And it carries the added benefit of giving patients significantly improved range of motion and joint use immediately following therapy.
Keep in mind that it is typical for patients to need several dry needling therapy sessions in order for total function to be restored. However, the majority of patients feel noticeable improvement immediately after each therapy session, which increases steadily with each session.
Regardless of the above stated side effects, by and large dry needling has a reputation for being relatively painless. Typically, needle insertion isn’t felt, and the local twitch response that is an integral part of the therapy generally rouses only a very brief pain response. Patients report that it feels most like a mild shock or cramping. Feeling the local twitch response is, in fact, a positive thing as it is the natural, therapeutic reaction that lets both patient and therapist know the intended trigger point has been hit and is responding to therapy.
Summing It All Up
- Dry needling is an established method of orthopedic manual physical therapy.
- Dry needling is done by pushing a very thin needle through the skin so that a trigger point causing symptoms such as CRPS pain and disability will be stimulated toward relief and healing.
- The dry needle is designed to penetrate trigger points, stimulating what is known as the local twitch response. It is this response that tells the therapist that the trigger point has been hit and a therapeutic response will follow.
- Dry needle therapy is a safe, effective, non-drug option for any patient without needle anxiety issues and for people over 12 years of age.
- People who choose dry needle therapy experience immediate benefits in range of motion and use of joints. Depending on the condition and its severity, several therapy sessions may be needed for full elimination of symptoms.
Dry needling is now an established therapy for the relief of CRPS pain and many of its symptoms. It can help reduce or, in some cases, eliminate pain medication dependency. For those who know the cascading effects of CRPS pain, dry needling is one of advanced medicine’s best weapons against complex regional pain syndrome.
When seeking out a qualified dry needling therapist, be sure to research your options thoroughly. NSI recommends seeking therapy for CRPS pain that is practiced by experts in a facility that takes a multi-faceted approach to treatment. Below, NSI offers tips on how to ensure you are going to a legitimate, licensed clinic.
What to Look for in a Stem Cell Medical Clinic
When searching for a qualified stem cell therapy center it’s important to remember that not all of them are created equal. Stem cells, when used properly, are your body’s most powerful means for healing that can repair everything from ligaments, tendons, and cartilage to organs including your liver, pancreas and lungs and even neurological tissue like your brain, nerves and spinal cord.
Unfortunately, the majority of so-called “regenerative medicine clinics” in the world aren’t trained in the latest, most technologically advanced procedures and will, therefore, provide poor results if any.
The good news is the National Stem Cell Institute (NSI) has established the most advanced stem cell and platelet rich plasma procedures on the planet which has drawn patients from all over the world as well as professional athletes and celebrities because they are recognized as the best in the world at stem cell therapy.
What makes NSI Stem Cell the top stem cell clinic in the world is demonstrated in 5 key areas:
1. Highly trained and experienced, board-certified doctors and team members who have performed stem cell procedures on thousands of patients with incredible results.
2. Cutting edge procedures utilizing all that regenerative medicine has to offer for many chronic degenerative conditions.
3. Leading scientific researchers who follow the advanced guidelines to maximize the healing potential of your stem cells and to maintain compliance and ethics
4. Use of only the most potent and viable resource of living, viable stem cells and harvested on the same day. No vial that you can purchase will contain living stem cells. If there is no harvest then there are no stem cells.
5. Post-operative guidance for supporting stem-cell growth including rehabilitation, diet and supplement protocols. NSI is a full-service healthcare center focused on patient outcomes. Stem cell therapy is only one tool used to help improve patients’ lives.
Patients have raved about their experience at NSI Stem Cell Clinics testifying that it was their unique cutting-edge procedures that helped them experience a breakthrough when nothing else worked.
If you want to learn more about NSI Stem Cell Clinics, you can set up a complimentary consultation today to see if you are a candidate. You can contact the National Stem Cell Institute at (877) 278-3623.
* Disclaimer: Individual patient results may vary. As each patient’s problem is different, each treatment must be tailored around your specific needs.