Dry needling for knee pain is becoming a widely used treatment to effectively reduce and eliminate knee pain. It’s especially effective when used by an experienced professional who knows how to use dry needling in combination with a strategic rehab exercise program to relieve significant knee conditions. Its effectiveness in treating knee pain is related to its ability to address trigger points as a part of myofascial pain syndrome, which will be discussed in this post. If you’re looking for a treatment other than surgery, injections, or medications for your knee pain dry needling is an excellent treatment to relieve pain and improve your knee function.
Looking for more details on dry needling for knee pain? Check out this post I wrote –> Dry Needling for Knee Pain Explained to learn more about the experience of dry needling and whether it hurts or not!
Dry needling for knee pain and how it relates to “myofascial pain syndrome.”
Dry needling can be effective for knee pain and other painful areas but is really a treatment that primarily is used to address what’s called myofascial pain syndrome. Myofascial pain syndrome essentially means that you’re having pain caused by trigger points situated in your muscles. These trigger points can cause pain to specific areas in your muscles, and these trigger points can also refer pain to nearby areas. Sometimes we have the idea that if our knee has pain, it must be caused by damage inside the joint, but one study estimated that 75% of regional pain could be caused by myofascial trigger points. Another more recent study concluded that myofascial trigger points may play a role in 85% of pain related to muscles and the skeletal system.
Why is dry needling so popular right now?
Myofascial trigger points and the identification and treatment of them is not new but has become a larger focus in physical medicine providers in the last ten years. This is partially why dry needling has become popular as a treatment option for musculoskeletal conditions. A broader scope of practice for chiropractors and PTs that allows them to use dry needling for conditions such as knee pain has also increased usage.
What if I know I have structural damage or changes in my knee?
If you have a knee pain, there’s a high likelihood, according to the authors of the previously mentioned studies, that trigger points are playing a role in the pain production. This is not to say that there aren’t other pain-producing structures, but remember, just because an x-ray or MRI may show knee arthritis or degenerative joint findings doesn’t mean those are the reason for pain. Imaging studies such as an x-ray or MRI are there to evaluate the integrity of the joint and tissues in order to give your provider a better understanding of your condition. They don’t show function, they don’t quantify pain, and they certainly don’t definitively determine what the cause of the pain is.
An argument for dry needling to treat knee pain.
I would argue that in the majority of causes of knee pain, trying a conservative treatment such as dry needling is a good place to begin your journey to becoming pain-free. More invasive medical treatment for knee pain such as steroid injections, PRP or stem cell injections, surgery, and medications will be an option still if dry needling fails to relieve knee pain. However, if 75%-85% of musculoskeletal pain is related to trigger points as some scholars suggest, you may not need those more invasive treatments to relieve knee pain if you try dry needling first.
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.