Recent Uptick in Work-Related Pain Can Be Treated with Dry Needling
With more people working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, Carmel doctor of physical therapy Divya Narayanan says she’s seen an obvious uptick in people experiencing pain in their necks and shoulders, numbness in their hands, and even radiating pain in their legs and feet.
More often than not, the culprit has been consistent: bad posture within their home workspaces.
“Since everybody’s now working from home, workspaces have moved to laptops and kitchen tables,” said Narayanan, owner of One 2 One Physical Therapy in Carmel.
“It’s been a huge issue,” she added. “It’s common to hear, ‘I’ve been working on my laptop now for two months, and now my neck is killing me,’ or ‘I’ve started feeling numbness and tingling in my hands.’”
According to Narayanan, such ailments are common in people whose muscles and tendons are forced to work harder to keep the body aligned and balanced due to bad posture.
The good news, however, is Narayanan is often able to provide significant and near-immediate relief for patients through a treatment called trigger point dry needling.
Trigger point dry needling is an approach to treating soft-tissue injuries that has recently gained popularity with physical therapists. By inserting thin filament needles into strategic locations on the body (called trigger points), Narayanan can stimulate the healing process of soft tissues by relieving muscle tension and pain.
Despite the way it looks, Narayanan says, dry needling is vastly different than acupuncture.
Acupuncture is a tradition of Chinese medicine and philosophy that believes that chi, or vital energy, flows through the body and can be regulated by inserting needles in certain meridian spots to help influence positive flow.
“Dry needling, on the other hand, is completely Western medicine,” Narayanan said. “It involves using the finest needle we can find to reset the muscle so it can function better. It’s all about releasing trigger points, which we do within a controlled, sanitary environment.”
Also, trigger point dry needling is only used as a treatment after Narayanan performs a full assessment of the patient to ensure this is the proper course of treatment. Once applied, however, Narayanan says patients often report significant relief and improved function within 24 hours.
“I also work with patients on ways they can prevent pain and discomfort in the future,” Narayanan said. “I educate them on posture correction, teach them some stretching exercises they can do to keep their bodies loose and aligned, and I educate them on best practices for setting up a home workspace.”
Of the advice she offers patients, Narayanan says the two most common are:
Not Every Space is a Workspace
Do not simply default to working from your kitchen table or with the computer on your lap in bed. These spaces do not promote good posture. Find or create a dedicated workspace based on the common principles of good workplace ergonomics.
Due to the lack of meetings or a need to get up and speak with coworkers, Narayanan said she’s found that people who work from home actually take fewer breaks than when they’re in the office. This isn’t a good practice. Take more opportunities throughout the day to stand up, stretch, and walk around the house a little.
Narayanan has around a decade of experience in treating patients with dry needling and was one of the first dry needling professionals to practice in Carmel, IN.
For more information about dry needling and/or setting up a safe and productive at-home workspace, or to learn if dry needling can effectively relieve your pain or discomfort, contact One 2 One Physical Therapy at (317) 703-0932.