Dry needling for ankle pain is an excellent treatment option that can relieve your ankle pain and get you back to exercising and training pain-free again. Ankle pain occurs for a variety of reasons, but the first step is always figuring out the specifics of your ankle pain what’s causing it. After we know exactly what kind of injury you’re dealing with, dry needling can speed up the healing process and allow you to resume exercise and training again. In this content, I’ll review some of the common injuries that cause ankle pain and what the typical dry needling experience is like in our chiropractic and rehab office.
Causes of Ankle Pain
If you’re experiencing ankle pain, know that it could be stemming from a variety of causes. The first step to effectively treat ankle pain is making a confident diagnosis so you can treat it using the right therapies. Dry needling is an appropriate treatment for ankle pain and is beneficial at speeding up the healing process. Make sure you have a chiropractor or other healthcare provider examine your ankle first. Here are some of the common reasons patients in our office typically have ankle pain:
- Achilles tendonitis or Achilles tendinosis
- Inversion ankle sprain
- Ankle stress fracture
- Foot stress fracture
- Ankle bursitis
- Tarsal tunnel syndrome
- Achilles tendon tear or rupture
Ankle Pain Causes Where Dry Needling is Not Appropriate
Although most common causes of ankle pain can be treated effectively with dry needling, some cases aren’t candidates for treatment with this therapy. Keep in mind that most of the time these are more serious injuries or cases where types of arthritis or traumatic injury are the primary cause of pain. Some of these causes include:
- Traumatic fractures of the ankle or foot
- Compound fracture of the ankle or foot
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Reactive arthritis
- Gouty arthritis
- Complete Achilles tendon rupture
- Infections of the structure around the ankle
A Typical Dry Needling Treatment for Ankle Pain
Once we’ve determined what’s causing your ankle pain we can get down to the nitty-gritty and getting you out of pain and back to exercising and training pain-free. Any treatment that involves treatment with needles can be anxiety producing, so let’s explore what typical dry needling treatment for ankle pain is like.
Our clinic’s dry needling treatments are 30-minute sessions where I use small acupuncture needles to target trigger points in the muscles and fascia of your ankle and lower extremity regions. Trigger points are taut bands of muscle or fascia that are sensitive and produce local pain or refer pain to specific regions. They also disrupt the way your muscles function and cause tightness that prohibits flexibility of the muscle. Think of a trigger point as a knot. You can actually feel them underneath the skin, and they’re typically pretty uncomfortable. A lot of people treat trigger points with massage therapy or by pressing on them or rubbing them. I’m a big proponent of massage therapy, but sometimes it’s not enough to completely address a trigger point because it’s deep and underneath multiple layers of tissue.
In contrast to massage, dry needling is actually able to get “inside” the trigger point versus having to go through multiple layers of tissue. When I hit a trigger point with a needle it causes a muscle twitch reaction where the affected muscle will twitch and release tension. This allows the muscle fibers to lengthen and relieves the pain associated with it.
What Muscles Do I Needle During Dry Needling for Ankle Pain?
I’ll definitely be needling muscles around the ankle like the gastrocnemius, soleus, tibialis anterior, and peroneal muscles when I’m treating ankle pain with dry needling. If I feel like there are other muscles in the lower extremity that are related to your ankle pain I may also do some needling to these muscles as well. These associated muscles may include the quadriceps muscles, hamstring muscles, gluteal muscles, and TFL. Don’t worry, we won’t be doing all of this in one treatment and will see adjust treatment depending on how you tolerate dry needling.
I’m also trained in classical acupuncture, so I’ll often do some more superficial needling to traditional acupuncture points that have been shown to relieve pain at the same time as your dry needling treatment.
Other Treatments for Ankle Pain That Our Office Offers
Dry needling for ankle pain isn’t a stand-alone treatment, it’s just a part of the strategy for getting you pain-free and back to exercising and training faster. I always prescribe a program of stretches and corrective exercises to strengthen and create balance in the muscles and joints of the lower extremity when I’m dry needling. This corrects the poor movement patterns that may have lead to your injury. Sometimes I’ll also use therapeutic ultrasound, Graston Technique, and chiropractic manipulation as part of the treatment plan as well. There a lot of therapies that we offer to treat your injury and get you feeling better as soon as possible.
This study supports why I use dry needling and stretches and corrective exercises together when I treat ankle injuries! See it here –> Trigger Point Dry Needling and Proprioceptive Exercises for the Management of Chronic Ankle Stability: A Randomized Clinical Trial
Are you curious if dry needling would be appropriate for other lower extremity injuries? See some of the other content I have!
Dr. Jason Williams DC is a chiropractic physician practicing at AccessHealth Chiropractic in Cary, NC. He treats neuromusculoskeletal pain and injuries using chiropractic manipulation, dry needling, acupuncture, rehab exercise strategies, and other supportive therapies. Primary areas of focus include back pain, neck pain, muscular pain, extremity pain, and orthopedic injuries. Dr. Williams is experienced in treating athletes, especially those in the CrossFit, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai, and MMA community.
If you’re interested in whether he or another AccessHealth provider can help you, navigate to our contact page or follow this link to request an appointment.