Dry Needling is a general term for a treatment
procedure that involves advancing a filament needle into the muscle in the area
of the body which produces pain and typically contains a ‘Trigger Point’. There
is no injectable solution and typically the needle which is used is very thin.
What is a Trigger Point?
A trigger point is an area of sustained local
contraction within the muscle due to excessive release of acetylcholine at the
synaptic cleft. These sustained local contractions compress local blood supply,
restricting the energy needs of the tissue. This energy crisis produces
hyper-irritability and palpable knots within the muscle.
What causes a Trigger Point?
Trigger points may be caused by acute local trauma
(such as a muscle strain) or chronic muscle overload (such as repetitive stress
or poor postural habits). Other contributing factors include disease processes,
psychological stress, and radiculopathy (inflamed or compressed nerve roots).
Trigger points cause tightness in muscles, which in turn can pull on tendons and
ligaments associated with the muscle and can cause pain within a joint where
there are no muscles. There are more than 600 potential trigger points in human
muscles. These trigger points, when they become active, can cause pain patterns
in muscles that often follow specific nerve pathways and have been mapped to
allow for identification of the causative pain factor.
How does Dry Needling work?
When the needle enters the trigger point, it causes
a local twitch response. This twitch response uses up the excessive
acetylcholine associated with the trigger point, allowing the trigger point to
release and the muscle to relax; thereby reducing pain and restoring normal
length and function of the involved muscle.
Does it hurt?
Most patients will not even feel the needle
penetrate the skin, but once it is advanced into the muscle, the feeling of
discomfort can vary from patient to patient. Usually a healthy muscle feels
very little discomfort with insertion of the needle; however, if the muscle is
sensitive and shortened or has active trigger points within it, you may feel a
sensation much like a muscle cramp or twitch response. You may only feel the
cramping sensation locally or you may feel a referral of pain or similar symptoms
for which you are seeking treatment. A reproduction of your pain can be a
helpful diagnostic indicator of the cause of your symptoms.
How long before I see results?
Typically positive results are apparent within 2-4
treatment sessions but can vary depending on the cause and duration of the
symptoms and your overall health.
What are some commonly treated conditions that
respond well to dry needling?
Dry needling is an effective treatment for acute and
chronic pain, rehabilitation from injury, and even pain and injury prevention,
with very few side effects.
Epicondylosis (tennis elbow)
Epicondylosis (golfer’s elbow)
or Lumbar Radiculpathy
Tibial Stress Syndrome (shin splints)