(Fremont County, Wyo.) - Evan Horn is an avid rock climber and NOLS instructor who first came to see Ryan Flatt, DPT, for Physical Therapy 2 years ago. He was having problems with his right hand, shoulder, and neck—a serious issue for a climber and someone who makes their living teaching others to do activities like rock climb, kayak, and ski.
While the typical physical therapy program of manipulation, stretching, and strengthening helped somewhat, it wasn’t enough.
Evan returned to Ryan’s care 3 weeks ago. When he arrived for his first appointment in two years, his grip strength was so diminished that even a handshake was painful. “Climbing was out of the question,” he said.
Ryan started Evan on a new treatment plan that incorporated the process of dry needling.
What is dry needling?
It is a skilled practice performed by a physical therapist. It uses a thin needle to stimulate trigger points, muscles, and tissue, which then helps relieve pain and movement issues. Dry needling improves pain control, reduces muscle tension, and accelerates active rehabilitation. It is a tool that a physical therapist uses along with more traditional physical therapy interventions, such as manipulation and strengthening.
Dry Needling vs. Acupuncture?
So, what’s the difference between dry needling and acupuncture? While both practices use similar needles, they both serve different purposes. Acupuncture is based on preserving ancient principles and tenets of traditional Chinese medicine. Dry needling is a way to accelerate rehabilitation, and is based on modern scientific study and western neuroanatomy. They both accomplish different goals for clients.
Ryan, who works out of Teton Therapy’s Lander office, is one of the few physical therapists in the area to be certified in dry needling. This service is also offered at Teton Therapy’s offices in Riverton and Cheyenne.
“Dry needling felt like it hit something deeper in the problem, and it helped me get better so much faster,” Evan said about his rapid progress. “It’s only been three weeks.”
He is now able to use his hands regularly at work, and is, of course, back to climbing.