Trigger Point Dry Needling
What is dry needling:
Dry Needling is a skilled intervention performed by a physical therapist that uses a thin filiform needle to penetrate the skin and stimulate underlying myofascial trigger points, muscular and connective tissues for the management of neuromusculoskeletal pain and movement impairments (APTA, 2012)
It is called “Dry” Needling because there is no solution injected as with a hypodermic needle during a flu shot. With Dry Needling, the needle itself and the effects it produces within the tissue is the treatment.
What does dry needling do?Dry Needling is thought to work through these following processes:
- Dry Needling may mechanically disrupt a dysfunctional motor end plate.
- Needling can result in a Local Twitch Response (LTR) which alters the muscle fiber length and muscle tone.
- Dry needling has been shown to stimulate alpha-nerve fibers which may produce opioid mediated pain suppression for as long as 72 hours post needling.
- Another possible mechanism of dry needling is the activation of descending inhibitory systems which would block painful stimulus into the dorsal horn of the spinal cord.
- Studies have demonstrated increased levels of various chemicals at sensitized motor end plates such as: Bradykinin, Substance P and CGRP (regulator of Calcium and Phosphate balance). These chemicals can alter muscle function and were reduced immediately after eliciting a local twitch response from dry needling.
- Needle penetration will cause micro-trauma and micro bleeding (localized inflammation) and hence the introduction of platelet derived growth factors into the area to help promote healing.
IS TRIGGER POINT DRY NEEDLING THE SAME AS ACUPUNCTURE?
No, Trigger Point Dry Needling is based on Western medical research and principles, whereas acupuncture is based on Traditional Chinese Medicine. The main similarity is that the same sterile, disposable solid filament needles are used. Each therapy is a separate and distinct in their methodology, perspectives and practices.
WHAT TYPE OF PATIENTS CAN BENEFIT FROM TRIGGER POINT DRY NEEDLING?
Trigger Point Dry Needling is used to treat a myriad of acute and chronic musculoskeletal and sports medicine injuries. We use Trigger Point dry Needling for the many of these common conditions.
- TMJ dysfunction
- Neck/Back Pain
- Shoulder Pain
- Tennis/Golfers Elbow
- Hip and Buttock Pain
- Knee Pain
- Achilles Tendonitis/Tendonosis
- Plantar Fasciitis
- Muscular Strains/Ligament Sprains
- Chronic Pain
- Increasing Athletic Performance
DOES TRIGGER POINT DRY NEEDING HURT?
You may or may not feel the insertion of the needle. The specific needle manipulation is intended to produce a local twitch response that can elicit a very brief (less than a second) painful response some patients describe as a deep ache, slight sting, a mimic of the pain referral pattern or a mild cramping sensation. Again, the therapeutic response occurs with the elicitation of the local twitch response and is a desirable reaction. Your therapist may use an electrical stimulator on the needles to assist with a twitch response, normalize the muscle’s firing patterns and decrease muscle guarding. Afterwards, there may be an immediate reduction in pain symptoms. Most commonly, there is a little muscle soreness that subsides with resumption of normal activity. The main thing we look for is an improvement in mobility, flexibility, and strength.
WHAT CAN I EXPECT AFTER TREATMENT?
We are looking to get improvements even from the first visit such as increased range of motion, ease of movement and decreased signs/symptoms. Many patients report being sore after the treatment in both the area treated and the area of referred symptoms. Typically this soreness lasts between a few hours and two days and there is occasional bruising. Soreness may be alleviated by applying ice or heat to the area and performing specific stretches for the treated muscle.
HOW DO I KNOW IF THIS IS APPROPRIATE FOR ME?
During the initial consult, our therapists will perform a thorough evaluation of your neuromusculoskeletal dysfunction and any other associated complaints. If it is determined that myofascial trigger points or soft tissue restrictions may be causing persistent pain or limiting range of motion, our therapists will discuss the option of incorporating Trigger Point Dry Needling as part of a comprehensive treatment plan. As movement specialists, our job is to help restore normal movement patterns and return our patients to their previous activities. Trigger Point Dry Needling will be used in conjunction with other modalities, manual therapy techniques, flexibility exercises, strengthening exercises and training in proper body mechanics.