Is dry needling an effective treatment for sciatica?

Sciatica is a painful condition that can affect the lower back and legs. The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the human body; sciatic nerve pain is usually related to compression or irritation of this nerve. This condition can have many different root causes. Degenerative disc disease is just one possible cause of sciatic nerve pain in the back. Sciatica can be indicative of a larger problem. Because of this, treating the symptoms without addressing the root cause(s) may not be an effective solution for sciatica. Available treatment methods for sciatica include a variety of physical therapy strategies.

Dry needling is a treatment technique designed to immediately reduce pain and improve mobility. Skilled physical therapy specialists use this technique to address a variety of musculoskeletal problems. Besides sciatica, dry needling can help treat conditions like tendinitis and fibromyalgia. One study showed that dry needling combined with stretching can improve clinical symptoms and muscle coordination. This study also found that dry needling helped reduce sciatic nerve pain in patients. Are you dealing with sciatica? Speaking with a physical therapist can help you decide whether dry needling is right for you.

What is dry needling?

Dry needling should be performed by a physical therapy specialist. The specialist will insert thin needles into specific trigger points along the body. This medical therapeutic technique aims to reduce pain and inflammation. It can improve range of motion and promote healing in the body. Similarities are often drawn between dry needling and acupuncture; however, there are important differences between these practices. Dry needling is based on modern scientific studies of systems in the human body. Western medicinal principles and rigorous research inform the method of dry needling.

Dry needling works by stimulating the body’s natural healing processes. When the needles are inserted into trigger points, they create micro-injuries in the muscle fiber. This triggers chemical releases and growth factors. These can help repair damaged tissue and decrease inflammation. By stimulating the nervous system, dry needling can help treat sciatica by reducing pain and improving muscle function.

How dry needling can treat sciatica

In many cases, dry needling is an effective treatment for sciatica. Physical therapy specialists create personalized treatment plans. They can then use targeted dry needling in the areas where a patient’s symptoms are most severe. Here are some of the ways that dry needling can benefit patients who experience pain along the sciatic nerve:

  • Pain relief — Dry needling can help to reduce the pain associated with sciatica. This is partially because the needles can activate certain sensory pathways and encourage the release of endorphins. These can lead to an immediate sense of relief. By addressing the causes of the sciatica, dry needling can also decrease the overall pain caused by sciatica in the long term.
  • Muscle function — Muscle function in the target area may be improved by dry needling. When the needles stimulate the nervous system, they can restore muscle activation and control. In addition to improving function, dry needling can help patients overcome muscle soreness. This makes dry needling a popular choice for athletes, as it can boost recovery time. 
  • Reduced inflammation — The thin needles used for dry needling can trigger the body’s natural anti-inflammatory response; which can help to reduce inflammation in the targeted area. Inflammation from sciatica causes burning and tingling sensations in many patients. Addressing inflammation can help reduce other symptoms at the source.
  • Improved motion — Dry needling can improve range of motion in the affected area. Inflammation can restrict movement, so reducing this symptom can help with motion. Another common cause of movement restriction is scar tissue. By promoting healing, dry needling can help break up adhesions and other scar tissue that restrict motion.

Many patients can benefit from dry needling treatments. By reducing pain and addressing other symptoms, dry needling can help in a variety of ways. To achieve the best results, dry needling is often accompanied by other physical therapy techniques that work together to treat sciatica.

Border Therapy Services can help treat sciatica with dry needling

At Border Therapy Services, our skilled team of credentialed physical therapists can help you uncover the causes of your symptoms and build a treatment plan that works for you. Physical therapy is a safe and effective way to treat underlying factors that can contribute to sciatica. By working with a physical therapist and incorporating dry needling into your treatment plan, you can improve your mobility and reduce your pain. Addressing your sciatica can let you get back to the activities you enjoy.

Contact our team today for more information about dry needling or to schedule an initial appointment.