what is trigger point dry needling and how does it work?
Trigger point dry needling is a technique physical therapists use to treat myofascial “trigger points” to decrease pain and restore movement restrictions. The technique uses a “dry” and sterile needle, without medication or injection, inserted through the skin into areas of the muscle that are tight and causing pain or limiting movement.
The end results help to deactivate the trigger point and the surrounding muscle can relax. This also draws in white blood cells and plasma cells to begin the healing process.
Other terms commonly used to describe trigger point dry needling include “dry needling” and “intramuscular manual therapy.”
Trigger point dry needling is NOT acupuncture, a practice based on traditional Chinese medicine and performed by acupuncturists. Acupuncture is based on targeting meridians and energy flow to help reduce pain and treat a wide range of complaints. Trigger point dry needling is a direct treatment to the area of pain. Trigger point dry needling is a part of modern Western medicine principles and is supported by research.
As part of their entry-level education, physical therapists are well educated in anatomy and therapeutic treatment of the body. Physical therapists who perform trigger point dry needling supplement that knowledge by obtaining specific postgraduate education and training as well as fulfill requirements outlined by the state in which they practice.
benefits of trigger point dry needling
- Targets the root cause of muscle pain to achieve long-term relief
- Enhances sports performance and recovery
- Researched, tested & proven to work
what is a trigger point?
Myofascial trigger points, also known as trigger points, are described as hyperirritable spots in the skeletal muscle. They are associated with palpable nodules in taut bands of muscle fibers that can be painful to touch or refer pain to other areas of the body. Trigger points can cause pain, decrease range of motion and mobility, and inhibit muscles from optimal performance. There are many ways you can treat trigger points such as injections, direct pressure with massage techniques, percussion therapy, foam rollers, massage tools, electrical stimulation, heat/ice, and dry needling. One of the most effective ways physical therapists have found to release trigger points is through using dry needling techniques.
is trigger point dry needling painful?
Most patients do not feel the insertion of the needle. The local twitch response elicits a very brief (less than a second) painful response. Some patients describe this as a little electric shock; others feel it more like a cramping sensation. Again, the therapeutic response occurs with the elicitation of local twitch responses and that is a good and desirable reaction.
what type of problems can be treated with trigger point dry needling?
Trigger point dry needling can be used for a variety of musculoskeletal problems. Muscles are thought to be a primary contributing factor to the symptoms. Such conditions include, but are not limited to neck, back, and shoulder pain, arm pain (tennis elbow, carpal tunnel, golfer’s elbow), headache to include migraines and tension-type headaches, jaw pain, buttock pain, and leg pain (sciatica, hamstring strains, calf tightness/spasms). The treatment of muscles has the greatest effect on reducing the pain mechanisms in the nervous system.
what side effects can I expect after the treatment?
Most patients report being sore after the procedure. The soreness is described as muscle soreness over the area treated and into the areas of referred symptoms. Typically, the soreness lasts between a few hours and two days.
what should I do after having the procedure done?
Our recommendations vary depending on the amount of soreness you have and on the individual response to the treatment. Recommendations may include applying heat or ice over the area, gentle stretches and modifications of activities.
how many sessions are required to feel results?
Typically, it takes several visits for a positive reaction to take place. We are trying to cause mechanical and biochemical changes without any pharmacological means. Therefore, we are looking for a cumulative response to achieve a certain threshold after which the pain cycle is disturbed.