DES MOINES, Iowa -- "They love it. I love it."
You don't hear that very often when talking about needles, but that's what people are saying about dry needling.
"It has revolutionized the way I treat people," says Molly Lechtenberg, physical therapist and co-owner of Breathe Physical Therapy and Wellness. "Everyone has had those knots, no matter how much you stretch it, rub it, it doesn't go away."
Lechtenberg says those knots--or trigger points--are perfect for dry needling, a method used to treat pain the muscle and myofascial system, which is the connective tissue that surrounds our muscles and bones.
"So, we find those knots, I stick the needle in that spot and then move it around in a way to elicit a twitch response."
Those twitches indicate the muscle is releasing and relaxing. And it's not only felt at the site of the trigger point. Some patients describe it as a "release of energy" felt throughout the entire body.
Lechtenberg says that's because a knot in one are of the body may actually be the result of problems in another.
"When you have these trigger points, it is not just a muscular problem. Those trigger points have become centralized. So it’s a nervous system problem, and that’s how you get referral pain."
Lechtenberg says dry needling creates an autonomic nervous system response that resets the nervous system, allowing the muscle to relax.
Of course, the most often asked question is: does it hurt?
"When it goes through the skin the needle is so thin, you really don’t feel it go through the skin. You do feel the twitch response."
For people with chronic, debilitating pain, it's worth it.
"A lot of people who have been through so many other treatments and just haven’t really gotten to the root of it, those are the people who can absolutely be helped through dry needling."