As part of your overall treatment plan, your physical therapist may recommend dry needling and/or cupping to help promote pain relief and healing. These medically-proven methods are provided by certified physical therapists at select UnityPoint Health clinics. Anyone with joint pain, muscle pain and/or tendon pain can benefit from dry needling or cupping therapy. Headaches, chronic pain, carpal tunnel syndrome and muscle overuse are a few examples of common conditions treated with these therapies.
Learn more below or contact one of our physical therapy locations to see if dry needling or cupping therapy meets your needs.
Functional Dry Needling (FDN) therapy is a technique that uses a thin filament needle designed to be inserted into the skin and treat underlying neural, muscular and connective tissues for the management of neuromusculoskeletal pain and movement impairments.
How does dry needling work?
FDN treatments target trigger points, which are typically taut bands in skeletal muscle, more commonly referred to as "knots" that cause pain. In treating the trigger points, we help restore the body structure and function leading to improved physical activity and participation.
Cupping is the use of silicone, plastic, and/or rubber cups to create suction pressure against soft tissue.
How does cupping work?
Cups create a suction that gently pulls against the skin, helping to promote blood flow in that area. This has the following benefits:
- Decompresses tissues
- Promotes healing
- Stimulates the neuromuscular system
After initial placement, cups are either left on the area for a few minutes, or continuously moved around the area. The exact technique will be determined and explained by your physical therapist at the time of your appointment. The overall treatment only lasts a few minutes.
What can be treated using functional dry needling therapy?
A wide variety of musculoskeletal and neuromuscular issues can be treated with dry needle treatment, which includes but are not limited to:
- Shoulder, neck, leg and hip pain
- Low back pain
- Muscle strains
- Groin strain
- Hamstring strain
- Carpal tunnel
- Overuse injuries/tendonitis/bursitis
- Lateral and medial epicondylitis (tennis elbow)
- ITB syndrome
Is functional dry needling the same as acupuncture?
No. Acupuncture is an Ancient Eastern medicine treatment and seeks to alter the flow of energy ("Qi") along with traditional meridians for various diseases or conditions. Functional dry needling is an intervention based on treating pain and dysfunction in musculoskeletal and neuromuscular disorders to improve overall physical function.
Is functional dry needling painful?
Most people do not feel the insertion of the dry needle into the skin, but once the needle penetrates the muscle, the patient will describe a "cramping" sensation or a "deep ache" within the muscle being treated. The goal of each dry needling treatment is to elicit a localized twitch response of the muscle.
What can I expect after dry needling treatment?
Symptoms may feel heightened for approximately 24-48 hours, including localized soreness, bruising, and muscle fatigue. It can be common to feel "loopy", tired or nauseous, but this is a normal response from dry needle therapy that resolves within a few hours.
Is dry needling safe?
Yes. We go to great lengths to ensure safety. Our Physical Therapists have all passed their necessary board exams, and have an exhaustive understanding of anatomy. We apply OSHA standards, use personal protective equipment, use sterile needles, and proudly hold to the highest standards of safety. If you are pregnant, it is safe to have functional dry needling performed following your first trimester.
What else should I know about dry needling?
If you're receiving dry needling treatment, here are a few more tips you should know:
- It is important to stay hydrated for the next 24-48 hours following treatment.
- Use ice or heat to help reduce the soreness.
- Continue with any light stretches your physical therapist has shown you.
- Massage the treated area to help reduce soreness.
Does insurance cover dry needling therapy?
Most insurance does not cover dry needling. If it is not covered by your insurance, you will be asked to sign a form stating that you still want the treatment and understand you will pay for the service out of pocket. Our scheduling and billing specialists are available to discuss costs for this treatment.
Frequently Asked Questions About Cupping
What can be treated using cupping therapy?
Cupping can used for a variety of conditions including, but not limited to:
- Shoulder, neck, hip, and leg pain
- Muscle strains
- ITB Syndrome
Is cupping painful?
Often cupping is not painful, but this varies person to person, along with how sensitive an area may be due to pain or other existing conditions. You can expect to feel a suctioning pressure on the tissue during treatment.
Is cupping safe?
There are no significant risks with cupping treatment. Your therapist will determine if this treatment is right for you.
What can I expect after a cupping treatment?
There will likely be bruising that will occur due to the increased blood flow in the region. This can last anywhere from a few hours to several days, depending upon the individual.
Does insurance cover cupping therapy?
Most insurance does not cover cupping. If it is not covered by your insurance, you will be asked to sign a form stating that you still want the treatment and understand you will pay for the service out of pocket. Our scheduling and billing specialists are available to discuss costs for this treatment.