Dry Needling is a specific treatment technique that uses a solid filament needle to treat muscle trigger points which are creating pain and discomfort.
A muscle trigger point is a highly localized, hyper irritable spot in a palpable, taut band of skeletal muscle fibers. These muscle trigger points , which are located throughout the human body, play a role in producing and sustaining feelings of pain and discomfort.
Trigger points develop in muscle for various reasons including referred or local pain, inflammation, tissue injury or other causes. Studies from the United States have shown that trigger points were the primary source of pain in as many as 85% of pain-related appointments with a primary care doctor.
How Dry Needling works
The mechanical stimulation of the muscle produces a local twitch or rapid depolarization of muscle fibers. After this process the muscle activity dramatically reduces, resulting in relaxation and decrease in pain and dysfunction. This decrease in pain is related to the removal of muscular compression on joint, nerve and vascular tissue. Occasionally, insertion of the needle will also reproduce “referred pain” symptoms. This is often a positive sign confirming the trigger point as being the cause of the pain. It is theorized that Dry Needling also stimulates release of endogenous opioid, and initiates a “new healing process”.
Dry Needling therapy will not replace the hands on approach to Rehabilitation, but will be an adjunct to our current level of care. It is another very specific tool to help reduce patient’s/clients pain which will then allow the patients to tolerate their exercises much better.
To truly be successful at this type of therapy, we must first and foremost be a skilled Athletic Trainer, as the techniques require very specific palpation skills and excellent knowledge of anatomy.
So how exactly does dry needling work?
- release of contracted knot in muscle fibers, increasing flexibility
- increased blood flow and oxygen to the muscle tissues
- stimulation of the pain-gate theory, creating immediate pain relief
- stimulates endogenous opioids such as endorphins which are bodies natural pain relievers
- improved kinesthetic sense and effects on sensory homunculus, leading to improved awareness, flexibility and joint range of motion
- very small micro-trauma to the tissues, leading to increase blood flow and entry of healing chemicals in the area and that stimulates the healing process
Conditions in which dry needling can be of particular use:
- Back Pain
- Neck Pain
- Shoulder pain
- Runners knee, patella-femoral syndrome
- Hip flexor tightness
- Calf strains
- Hamstring, gluteal and adductor tightness
- Headaches and postural pain
- Tennis and Golfers Elbow
- Plantar fasciitis
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Shin splints
- TMJ tension