Acute inflammation is challenging condition. In this instance, Dry Needling can be a welcome relief for the pain and discomfort associated with this process and can assist with managing the acute condition and getting real time results.
Inflammation is a process associated with injury of soft tissue from physical activity or accidents, for example - falls, muscle tears or sprains, rotator cuff injury. Additionally, soft tissue that has been used improperly for example- Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI).
Just to clarify that soft tissue includes the following: muscle, tendon, ligament, fascia as well as skin. Therefore, for many reasons, inflammation is often and easily experienced in conjunction with a condition and rarely on its own.
How does inflammation present? Redness in appearance, swelling, sensitive/ painful to the touch plus an increasing skin resistance overlying the inflamed tissue. Restriction of joint function is likely resulting in impairment of structural function. If a diagnosis has been made in relation to the inflammation by a qualified person the name will typically end in "itis" - tendonitis, fasciitis, bursitis etc.
Inflammation is the bodies natural response and is important in getting blood into an area as part of the healing process. If the blood cannot reach the receptors in the affected area the inflammation process continues and this is when the process of inflammation becomes a problem. For this reason Dry Needling is an appropriate solution for inflammation. Based on the core principle of Dry Needling that the central nervous system is stimulated by the needles to move the targeted tissue to optimum fibre length. This resulting release of the soft tissue allows the impending blood from the inflammation process to penetrate through to the receptors bringing an end to the inflammation process.
I have worked on the following cases involving inflammation:
Tendinitis of the elbow where the client could not bend the elbow joint without experiencing acute pain. After inserting a total of five needles above and below the joint movement was restored within 20 minutes. Three 45 minute follow up Dry Needling treatments were required to address the underlying trauma to the elbow.
Rotator cuff injury on a Newtown Jets player during the 2014 season; inserting 18 needles in and around the injured area allowed movement without experiencing inflammatory symptoms. Five 45 minute follow up Dry Needling treatments were required to address the underlying trauma to the shoulder.
Plantar fasciitis of the right foot; after needling the area with a total of 8 needles into the Achilles' tendon the client did not experience relief until the next morning noting no significant discomfort when placing feet on the floor when exiting the bed. Six follow up treatments were required to give momentum to an acceptable outcome for the client.
With any of my clients that come to me with acute inflammatory symptoms the core requirement is to eliminate the inflammatory process. The number of needles and the number of treatments is dependent on the following variables:
- The area afflicted. Shoulders are more involved in comparison to elbows and hips. Lower backs are incredibly responsive.
- The underlying cause of the inflammation. Road running, impact sports, fall, resistance training, high heels / flat shoes with no support.
- physical fitness of the client. The fitter the client the more responsive the body is to the treatment
- the age of the client. The younger the quicker the response and the fewer treatments required to achieve an outcome (I'm not young so I hear you)
- scar tissue and the he amount of scar tissue tissue. This will act as resistance when attempting to normalise fibre length when using needles.
- returning to activities that lead to the inflammation. This can undo the good work of the the needling of the underlying cause is undertaken too quickly. Alternative exercises, reduced activities, better posture or shoes can help in the recovery process.
It is also worth noting that the needles help restore significantly fibre length that has been compromised over decades or compromised decades ago. This means that at some point the client will be able to return exercise and significant mobility. As with all therapists a guaranteed outcome is difficult to ascertain, especially if we are the only therapist engaged. A collective and comprehensive approach is often required. For this reason Max Remedial supports the integration of a range of modalities and therapists in the one clinic, providing the best in complete recovery and treatment for the condition.