GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA)– It’s a technique to treat pain that has been around for thousands of years, but many are still unfamiliar with it.

It’s called ‘dry needling’.

As part of our “Ask The Expert” series, in partnership with Bon Secours St. Francis, a physical therapist breaks down how it can be used to treat anything from joint issues to migraines, and more.

Dry needling is a treatment technique for pain.

“We take a solid filament needle and insert it into the body’s tissue or muscles for a therapeutic effect.”

Stephen Cuffey, Physical Therapist, Bon Secours St. Francis

Stephen Cuffey, a physical therapist, says no medicine is injected into the muscle, just the needle itself.

“Dry needling focuses on the musculoskeletal system and draws from Western medicine philosophies and techniques,” said Cuffey.

It’s not the same thing as acupuncture.

“Acupuncture has a broader range of things that they can treat, not just the musculoskeletal system,” said Cuffey.

A physical therapist will use the dry needles to alleviate the trigger points in your muscles and tissues.

“It increases blood flow to the tissues. It can decrease tone and tension within the muscles and within the tissues of the body. It can also help stimulate the healing process through biomechanical and electrical and physiological changes to the muscles itself.”

Stephen Cuffey, Physical Therapist, Bon Secours St. Francis

How deep the needle goes, depends on how easy the muscle is to reach.

“There are some muscles that are very deep, and so we would have to get deeper into some of those areas. Some muscles are very superficial and it wouldn’t take much more than just getting through the skin to get to those muscles,” said Cuffey.

Cuffey says there aren’t many risks associated with dry needling, but some patients will experience minor soreness, discomfort, or bruising afterward.

And not everyone is a candidate for the treatment.

“If somebody is scared of needles or has a systemic reaction to the site or having a needle placed in them, I wouldn’t want to do a dry needling on them. If they have a metal allergy, I wouldn’t want to do needling on them. If there is some clotting issue or if there is some infection, I wouldn’t want to dry a needle in that area either,” said Cuffey.

Cuffey says some patients will get dry needling done as often as once a week.

To submit a health topic for our ‘Ask the Expert’ series, click here.