What is Dry Needling?
Dry Needling is a technique where the doctor inserts a fine filament single-use needle, just like Acupuncture, into a Myofascial Trigger Point (MTrP) of a muscle to deactivate the MTrP resulting in decreased pain.
What is a Myofascial Trigger Point?
An MTrP is that knot in your muscle. It is a group of muscle fibers which have been locked into a contracted state and can’t relax. A myofascial trigger point is characterized by the development of a sensitive nodule in the muscle (Simons, Travell & Simons, 1999). This occurs as the muscle fibers become so tight that they compress the capillaries and nerves that supply them (McPartland, 2004; Simons, et al., 1999). As a result, the muscle is unable to move normally, obtain a fresh blood supply containing oxygen and nutrients, or flush out additional acidic chemicals (McPartland, 2004; Simons, et al., 1999). In addition to this nodule, the remainder of the muscle also tightens to compensate (Simons, et al., 1999; Simons, 2002). The presence of a myofascial trigger point in a muscle can lead to discomfort with touch, movement and stretching; to decreased movement at a joint; and even a temporary loss of coordination (Simons, et al., 1999).
What Causes a Myofascial Trigger Point?
A myofascial trigger point develops as part of the body’s protective response following:
- injury – the muscle will tighten in an attempt to reduce the severity of an injury;
- unexpected movements e.g. descending a step that is lower than originally anticipated;
- quick movements e.g. looking over your shoulder while driving;
- change in regular activity or muscle loading e.g. an increase in the number or intensity of training sessions for sport;
- sustained postures e.g. prolonged sitting for work or study;
- nerve impingement – the muscle will tighten to protect the nerve;
- illness (bacterial or viral);
- nutritional deficiencies, or;
- metabolic and endocrine conditions.
(Simons, et al., 1999)
How is Dry Needling different from Acupuncture?
It is the purpose that makes the two different. The stagnation of Qi and the imbalance of Yin and Yang is the cause of all disease in Chinese Traditional Medicine. Acupuncture uses the same filiform needles, but they are inserted at very specific points along a Meridian’s Channel to restore the flow of Qi and balance the Yin and Yang. Acupuncture has been proven to treat all kinds of medical conditions and not just muscle and joint problems. Dry Needling is focused on deactivating MTrP’s to reduce muscular and joint pain, increase range of motion, strength, and functionality.
What Will You Feel During Dry Needling Treatment?
During a Dry Needling treatment, you may feel a slight sting as the needle is inserted and removed. However, this discomfort should last no longer than a second before settling. A brief muscle twitch can also be experienced along with some discomfort. This may occur during treatment when the needle is inserted into a myofascial trigger point. If it is too painful, let the doctor know.
What to expect after Dry Needling?
There can be some soreness for a couple days, but more like the soreness from an intense workout. After that subsides, the range of motion and pain should be remarkably better.