We usually only consider Dry Needling for adults not children. But in fact dry needling is just as effective for kids as it is for adults.
I regularly use dry needling for treating muscle tension in children as young as 9 or 10. Only yesterday I treated a young boy of 12 for muscle tension over the upper borders of the trapezii.
The main concern that we have as practitioners when considering dry needling for young children is pain. Will my treatment cause pain to my patient and will this upset them & their parents?
If you can solve this concern then you really have no reasons why you shouldn’t use dry needling in children, because you are dealing with the same physiology, the same target tissues and the same dysfunction.
So how do you solve the pain question?
The answer to that is two-fold:
- Communication between you, the child & their parent
- Use of the correct size needles
This is one of the most important factors that determines treatment effectiveness. Without good communication no matter how good a practitioner your are, no matter how skilled your techniques are & no matter how experienced you are, your treatment will fail.
Not only will your treatment fail but you could also land yourself in hot water with the parent of the child and the regulatory bodies like AHPRA.
Read through the patient complaints that AHPRA has to deal with every year & you’ll soon understand why communication is so important.
It’s important to remember of course that obtaining informed consent from the parent & guardian for your treatment is mandatory. This also requires communication.
Using the correct sized needles when treating kids is really important. You don’t want to get this wrong. Because just as with the young child who presents with a wry neck, you’re only going to get one chance to get your treatment right.
The beauty of dry needling therapy and kids is that they actually make it easy for you. Their skin is soft, their muscles are usually well defined and they are generally smaller.
So as a practitioner you can use very fine needles (0.18-0.22) which are very short in length (20 mm) & the trigger points are easy to locate. Using these needle sizes enables you to reduce the risk of pain and in most cases the child won’t even feel the needle.
The end result is a happy patient, happy parent and discussion at the dining room table that night about you as a practitioner & your magic needles!
Dr Wayne W Mahmoud
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