Dry Needling is an increasingly popular modality for treating back problems, sports injuries, sciatica, joint dysfunction and a host of other unpleasant and inconvenient problems. Dry needling is a kind of “Reset Button” for muscle tension and reduces electrical activity in nearby nerves to help muscles move better and function properly. Dry Needling is also helpful in treating headaches.
Root of the Problem
Medical literature recognizes that headaches can often originate in, or be triggered by, tension in the neck muscles. Poor posture, old injuries and poor work habits can all contribute to tension headaches or even trigger debilitating migraines. Trying to get rid of persistent headaches can be very frustrating. Having constant or frequent headaches can be miserable and get in the way of daily activities. Most people treat their headaches with medication. Often medication gives temporary relief but does not treat the underlying cause of the symptoms. Stronger medication comes with unwelcome side effects that may cause additional problems, like addiction, for the headache sufferer.
How Dry Needling Helps
There are two main ways that Dry Needling helps headaches:
Number one, it improves posture. This is a basic tenet of all Physical Therapy treatment: “lets find, and eliminate the true cause of your discomfort”. Normalizing muscle tone and function in the neck treats the root of the problem so there is less chance the symptoms will come back.
Number Two: Decreases excessive nerve activity: Some muscles in the neck share the same nerves as parts of the skull, so relieving tension in these muscles can relieve symptoms in the head. In some cases the relief can be felt immediately.
Which Muscle to Treat
There are many muscles involved in neck and head movement that may contribute to headaches. A full examination by a licensed Physical Therapist will help each you find out which muscles in particular are causing your headaches. That being said, here are three of the muscles that often contribute to headaches:
“There are many muscles involved in neck and head movement that may contribute to headaches”
Rectus Capitis Posterior Major
You can’t see this muscle as it lies deep to other neck muscles however it serves help you move your head upward and rotate to one side. Dry needling can reach this muscle directly which makes it more effective than other forms of treatment.
You can definitely see this one : If you turn your head to the side it pops right up. SCM, as it is known, is involved in several neck movements so if it gets tight, it can cause a lot of problems.
This muscle helps you elevate your shoulder. It is also covered by other muscles but you may be able to feel it on the side of your neck as you shrug. This muscle connects the neck and shoulder and is one of the reasons shoulder problems can lead to neck problems and headaches.
Does Dry Needling Hurt?
Dry Needling is called “Dry” because no medication is being injected into the area. Because of this, the needles are very thin and often you can’t feel the needle entering the skin. As the needle tip gets close to painful tight muscles, you may feel a faint pinching, burning or aching sensation. Often there is little or no discomfort.
How Long Does Dry Needling Take?
An initial Dry Needling session includes a comprehensive evaluation by a licensed Physical Therapist followed by treatment and re-assessment. The first session typically takes about 30 min but may be longer depending on what is being treated. Follow up sessions take about 15 minutes.
When Will the Headache Stop?
Usually there is immediate improvement in signs and symptoms. Some of the physiological affects of Dry needling take 3-7 days to happen so you may continue to see improvement for up to a week after treatment.
Do I need a Prescription?
You do not need a prescription for any type of Physical Therapy including Dry Needling therapy. To make an appointment, call our office and ask for a Dry Needling appointment.
Have Questions About Dry Needling?
If you have question about how physical therapy and dry needling can help you manage your headaches, we invite you to stop by one of Jones Physical Therapy’s offices in Hammond LA or Madisonville LA and chat with one of our licensed Physical Therapists.