Acupuncture-like technique eases tense muscles

Staff writer

Physical therapist Matt Vermillion at St. Luke Hospital has a new weapon in his aches-and-pains war box.

Vermillion is now certified in dry-needle therapy.

He’s one of only a handful of physical therapists in Kansas licensed to use the technique, which uses needles similar to those in acupuncture but with a different aim.

With dry needling, Vermillion looks for trigger points in muscles and goes in and out with needles instead of just putting them in the skin.

“The needles are very thin, about 1/15th the size of the needle used to donate blood,” Vermillion said.

What he looks for is a twitch.

“I want that muscle to relax and turn off from that ‘always on’ state,” he said.

Whether a patient can benefit from dry-needling depends on his or her overall health and what conditions are being treated.

If a patient is on a blood thinner or has a compromised immune system, Vermillion doesn’t use dry-needling. He’s also cautious about using it if a patient is pregnant.

Vermillion has used dry-needle therapy to help three dozen patients. Dry-needling helps retrain muscles so they move correctly. The patient can then work on moving the muscle properly in the future.

“If I can teach them to move the right way, that helps them get better faster,” he said. “The results can be incredible.”

Vermillion, who has been at St. Luke 10 months, became certified to do dry-needle therapy in May.

Last modified July 20, 2016