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MCKINNEY, TX – It may look similar to acupuncture, but according to McKinney physical therapist Bobby Curtis, dry needling is clinically different. And, he added, it’s one of the single best ways to manage a soft tissue injury.

“It is a very specific and localized treatment,” said Curtis, partner and clinic manager of Vista Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine in McKinney. “So, the relief is felt very quickly, allowing the patient to move more easily with less pain throughout the therapy session.”

Dry needling is an approach to treating soft tissue injuries that has gained popularity with physical therapists, especially those specializing in sports medicine where increased range of motion and a quick recovery are often vital.

According to Curtis, every injury has elements of myofascial (soft tissue) restrictions because the body is trying to protect that area from further harm. Think of the muscle fiber as a foot long piece of rope, and the “trigger point,” or knot being in the middle.

“Anatomically speaking, it’s the same exact piece of muscle fiber, but now it cannot lengthen or shorten properly,” Curtis said. “When it cannot do so, it will not function the same, and lead to decreased strength and force production, along with possible compensations.”

That’s where dry needling can help. Through the use of fine needles inserted into strategic locations on the body, the technique essentially loosens and “alleviates the knot.”

So how is this different than acupuncture? The difference is clinical, Curtis said.

Acupuncture is a tradition of Chinese medicine and philosophy that believes that chi, or vital energy, flows through the body and can be regulated by inserting needles in certain meridian spots to help influence positive results.

“Dry needling, on the other hand, is a clinical treatment that helps soft tissues relax and lengthen, creating more mobility,” Curtis said. “While acupuncture needles are very, very lightly tapped into key locations on the body, the techniques used in dry needling are designed to penetrate the skin and reach into the compromised muscle to stimulate the myofascial trigger points, creating a change in the soft tissues’ form, and thus function.”

Curtis said clients can feel some slight discomfort with dry needling, such as a small sting or even a muscle twitch, “but this is good. It means the muscle is reacting,” he added.

Curtis often begins physical therapy sessions with dry needling. Used regularly over the course of physical therapy, dry needling can dramatically reduce pain, and allow patients to rapidly return to the field, and pursuing their passions.

“This is one reason it is so popular with athletes and weekend warriors,” said Curtis. “But it is also applicable to things such as chronic headaches, chronic lower back pain, or other chronic injuries such as shoulder impingement syndrome or knee issues.”

Contact the physical therapy team at Vista Rehab & Sports Medicine to learn more about dry needling.

ABOUT VISTA REHAB PARTNERS

Vista Rehab Partners is an independent, therapist-owned network of 17 outpatient orthopedic physical therapy clinics located in the North Texas Area. We provide personalized physical therapy, sports rehabilitation, and injury prevention services to patients through a hands-on approach is designed to return you to your full potential, as soon and as safely as possible. Learn more at vistarehab.com.

CONTACT: Megan McNeal, LAT, ATC,CKTP
Sports Medicine Outreach Coord., Vista Rehab Partners
214-402-4165 (Cell), mmcneal@vistarehab.com

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