7/30/2017

Dry Needling

I've been suffering from the following maladies for quite a while now:
- stiff shoulders due to lack of stretching before and after a workout
- lax and aching ankles due to multiple ankle sprains

Massages have only provided temporary relief, but it was only in 2015 that I decided to seek pain management treatment particularly for my stiff shoulders. This decision was triggered by my experience of pain radiating from my shoulders up my neck to the base of my skull especially when I am tired/stressed out. It would sometimes leave me disoriented and feeling fatigued. 

My 1st experience with pain management was with Dr Maya N at Pantai Pain Centre. Seh diagnosed I have myofascial pain syndrome; muscles in my shoulders were tense and squeezing the nerve, thus the waves of pain. She prescribed the PENS treatment (Percutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) where needles are inserted in the affected nerve to transmit a low electric current and block the pain (she has written a very good article for the Star on the matter). While Dr Maya was gentle and professional, the treatment was not very effective as it still does not eliminate the source of pain thus I stopped after 2 sessions. 

Subsequently, I underwent a single session of acupuncture and cupping therapy with Ka Traditional Medicine Centre and the relief was more long lasting, albeit temporary (plus it was cheaper). 

Recently I have gone for 4 sessions with Ms Abbie of Green Chiropractic Sdn Bhd:
1) Spinal adjustment and deep tissue manipulation
2) Dry needling of trapezium muscle
3) Dry needling of right calf
4) Dry needling of tibialis anterior 
Note that dry needling and Chinese acupuncture are share 1 thing in common: utilization of the needle as tool of treatment. The theory and the approach are completely different. The actual mechanism of how dry needling works is still unclear, but it is clear that the treatment "releases" myofascial tension and allows the injured muscle to recover quickly, thus relieving the pain and discomfort. 

Verdict:
Dry needling works for me; muscles stay relaxed for weeks after the treatment and the relief seems more permanent. The most important lesson is that good habits are essential to prevent the pain:
1) don't underestimate the importance of warm-up/warm-down
2) don't strain overworked muscles (don't gung ho)
3) pay attention to posture and stretching intermittently while at work

It is important to practice good habits early to prevent further injury, prolonged pain and improve quality of life. 

Disclaimer: This article is merely knowledge-sharing and it is not intended to promote any treatment/centre. However I am happy to discuss my experience so feel free to ask questions :)

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