Dr. Heather North explains dry needling, how it’s used for sports injuries, and how it differs from acupuncture in the treatment of sport’s injuries
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Ready Steady Rehab is hosted by Heather North of Red Hammer Rehab
Podcast length: 15’14”
On this week’s episode, Dr. Heather North helps us understand the use of dry needling in physical therapy. Dry needling is a unique procedure intended to specifically target and restore muscle function, with an emphasis on improving tissue healing and restoring normal tissue function. This is important as continued activity with poor muscle function may lead to further tissue damage and increased pain. Dry needling is not meant to replace conventional medical procedures such as physiotherapy or surgery. However, when combined with conventional treatment options, dry needling can be an influential method to accelerate pain reduction, healing and the restoration of normal tissue function.
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There is a growing body of scientific evidence that supports the positive effect inserting a needle has on the electrical and chemical communications that take place in our nervous system. These include inhibiting the transmission of pain signals in our spinal cord and increasing the release of our own pain relieving chemicals within our brains. The pain relieving effect of dry needling is gaining strong support in mainstream Western medicine, with public hospital systems now directly funding its use.
Modern dry needling is based on current medical science and research known and accepted by today’s primary care, orthopedic, neurologic and pain management physicians. However, the positive effect on pain of inserting a needle is likely to be similar, whether administered as part of a dry needling or acupuncture treatment.
What is dry needling and how it differs from acupuncture?
Acupuncture is the insertion of very fine needles into specific sites on the body chosen according to the guiding principles of Traditional Oriental Medicine.
Over 2500 years old
Explanation of how acupuncture works
Channels that run in patterns
Energy channels flow through the body to irrigate and nourish the tissues and organs
Comparing a dam that is stopped up
Unblocking the obstructions
Helping meridians flow
Healthy meridians are helping the body
Names of dry needling
What is dry vs wet
Types of usage
Muscle Twitch Uses
Pain ->Trauma->signal receptors->feedback to cord/reflex arc
Motor neurons getting stuck in loop->creating muscle spasm->nonstop spasm
Needle creates stimulation that interrupts process
Damaged tissue creates spasm->decreased bloodflow/death/scar tissue->tense muscle
Twitch response causes this relaxation of the muscle
Creating damage and encouraging healing
Lots of microtrauma
Is is safe?
Risk fastors Acupuncturist vs PT/chiro/etc.
What does it feel like?
Some states it is not accessed
Part of the big picture of treatment
Red Hammer Rehab website
Dr. Heather North
Bio: Heather North holds a Doctorate in Physical Therapy from the University of Colorado. She is the owner of Red Hammer Rehab in Louisville, CO that specializes in sports-related orthopaedic injuries and prevention. This practice has won “Best Sports Medicine Rehab Facility” and “Best Sports Medicine Doctor” year upon year since it’s opening. Heather’s focus is on sports medicine and orthopaedic manual and manipulation physical therapy. She is known for being aggressive with injuries and focusing on discovering and fixing the mechanics behind each and every injury. She believes that it is important to continue to learn the newest and most up to date techniques. Heather’s philosophy revolves around getting patients recovered quickly and teaching them to sustain a healthy state. Injuries can only be eliminated by addressing bio-mechanical causes and then aggressively treating the damage created from these issues. When not in the clinic, Heather enjoys road/trail running, mountain biking, coaching for Revolution Running (she is the group’s in-house physio), and spending time in the mountains with her husband Ewen. She regularly competes in races all over including the Pikes Peak Marathon. Heather was a college level swimmer and has even tested the waters with triathlon in her post-collegiate years as well.