Clinical physicians developed modern dry needling models primarily to treat soft tissue pain related to inflammation, sensitized nerves, scar tissue formation, tissue adhesion, and deficiency of blood and lymphatic circulation. The practice of dry needling today is used to address both local and systemic dysfunctions.
The process of dry needling involves inserting a filiform needle through the skin where it physically stretches soft tissue. The needle-induced stretching creates lesions, which remain in the body for days. The procedure addresses soft tissue dysfunction through physical (stretching) and biochemical stimuli (lesions).
The needle-induced lesions activate physiological mechanisms that promotes tissue healing. Needling facilitates the remodeling of the injured and inflamed soft tissues in and around the needling site.
Dry needling itself does not treat any diseases, but rather restores tissue and systemic homeostasis. After needling many pathological conditions can be improved.
Dry needling’s local benefits
The remodeling process remedies soft tissue dysfunction in three ways:
- Local physical stress reduction (tissue tension)
- Normalizing local inflammation
- Replacement of injured tissues with fresh tissues of the same type
The healing of needling-induced lesions normalizes inflammation by carrying blood and fluid circulation into and out of inflamed tissues. The process is also hypothesized to assist in the balance of the sympathetic nervous system.
However, all local dysfunctions have effects throughout the human system. Soft tissue pain can affect the biomechanical balance of part or all of the musculoskeletal system.
Dry needling’s systemic benefits
Systemic homeostasis in humans is the process of maintaining a stable internal environment, despite changes in the exterior. Dry needling promotes the body’s self-healing process in localized soft tissues as well as benefiting the body by restoring systemic homeostasis.
Restoring systemic homeostasis means reducing both physical and physiological stress. All body systems, including the immune, cardiovascular, endocrine, among others, can experience benefits through neurological and vascular inter-relationships. The procedure can also alleviate biomechanical imbalances such as joint and posture imbalance by addressing the soft tissue dysfunctions.