Dry Needling for Chronic and Acute Low Back Pain

Successful Treatment through dry needling for Chronic and Acute Low Back Pain Sufferers

Article by Taryn Cohn PT, MSPT, COMT, OCS

Trigger Point Dry NeedlingOne of the most common and chronic injuries I see as a physical therapist is low back pain.  Low back pain seems to affect all ages, shapes and sizes. If it is not treated effectively it can linger for months or even years.

As physical therapists, we focus a great deal of our injury treatment and prevention on exercise.  It is very important to find the balance between strength and mobility to create a stable environment for healing.  However, it is often difficult to begin exercise initially after acute or chronic periods of injury when there is so much muscle guarding and spasm in the area.  A good way to jump start the return to activity and function is through manual therapy or hands-on techniques.  There are several techniques that fall into this category, but one of the most effective techniques I have found is trigger-point dry needling.

One reason dry-needling is so effective is it’s ability to reach deep muscle groups that are at times more difficult to affect change with hands-on and exercise techniques alone.  This is especially true with the muscles involved in back pain and injury.  Some of these muscles include the large muscle groups of the hips like the gluteal and piriformis muscles, or smaller stabilizing muscles of the spine like multifidi. The improved muscle mobility gained through dry-needling enables the body to react more appropriately to exercise, therefore achieving noticeable results in a timelier manner.

I have several great success stories as a result of dry needling, but one of my favorites is from a young healthy mother of three that started seeing me when she became so debilitated from the pain in her back and left leg she was no longer able to perform daily tasks that were necessary for the care of herself and her children.  After only a few treatments in conjunction with a comprehensive home exercise program she is back to lifting and carrying her children and bending forward for tasks like bath time.  She has also been able to return to working out and running, activities she also had to curtail.  When I spoke with her recently she reported “Nothing relieved my lower back pain until I was dry needled. It’s intense, but so worth it!  Dry needling is a miracle.”

Another success story comes from a gentleman who has had chronic low back pain and debility stemming from an injury and subsequent surgery over 13 years ago.  When asked about his experience with dry needling he simply said “Exhilarating!  I had more motion after that than I have had in years.

Most everyone is a candidate for dry-needling.  If you have tried other forms of physical therapy or treatment without symptom resolution, I encourage you to consider trigger point dry-needling as an option.