Avera Medical Minute: Dry Needling Relaxes Muscle Knots

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If you've struggled with knots in your muscles that won't loosen up, there's a new technique you may want to consider. Bobbie Severson of Pierre has found relief and hope in the procedure.

Dry Needling Procedure

"Almost better than having a massage done and if he could do it for longer than five minutes I would love it," said Severson.

Bobbie is describing Dry Needling and it pinpoints the knots in her muscles."You can actually feel it kind of dissolve, and you can feel when he hits the knot to loosen it up and you can feel as it loosens up."

To get that relief, Bobbie has chosen a long needle to be inserted through her skin and right into the muscle.

She knows it will include a few seconds of discomfort. "It feels just like a needle prick when you get a flu shot, and then it feels like a bee sting as it starts to get into the knot, in your back, shoulders, whatever he's working on. And then your body twitches as it releases," said Severson.

That's the worst part, then it actually feels good. "He then put an electrode into it, and so then it's like you're getting a massage," said Severson.

Bobbie's ongoing shoulder issues are being addressed with physical therapy. The addition of the Dry Needling has made a big difference.

Physical Therapist John Rounds at Avera St Mary's Hospital in Pierre describes the dissolving feeling and the immediate relief.

"If you think of a muscle fiber this way, this would be a good muscle fiber, when you have that knot, the muscle tenses up and you get those harder areas, if I'm hitting that right I'm trying to bring that needle directly down into where it's knotted up. Essentially what happens is the muscle will contract, over tighten, and when a muscle does that it's gonna over fatigue, it basically loosens," said Rounds.

And that's what brings the relief for Bobbie. The dry needling sessions went from twice per week to weekly and will be even longer between, as she feels the relief for longer stretches of time.

"This seems to be the most effective ways that we've been able to treat her, to just give her that sense almost immediate relief to the point where hopefully we're able to avoid any sort of surgery with her in the future," said Rounds.

Although surrounding states have allowed dry needling, the procedure is new to South Dakota. The State Legislature approved Dry Needling February 2019. The law requires only Physical therapists with certification in dry needling to perform the procedure. Bobbie is grateful that dry needling is available in Pierre, otherwise, long-distance travel would have made it nearly impossible.

"We have four therapists that are certified to do it in the Pierre region so it's been wonderful for the community. Again it's just another option when something else has not been effective in the past and this is an option that has been pretty effective," said Rounds.