What is Dry needling?
Dry needling is a treatment technique, performed by skilled, trained physical therapists, certified in the procedure. A thin monofilament needle penetrates the skin (without the use of substances or drugs) and treats underlying muscular trigger points for the management of neuromusculoskeletal pain and movement impairments.
Dry Needling vs. Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a method of treatment that is based on traditional Chinese medicine whereas Dry Needling is part of a treatment that belongs to Western medicine and is supported by studies and articles.
Despite the similarity in technique and the use of needles, the difference between the methods is actually the theory behind the two techniques. The goal of dry needling is to reduce pain and improve function by releasing trigger points and myofascial points of the muscle. In contrast, acupuncture aims to treat diseases or health conditions by restoring the flow of energy in the body, in order to achieve physical balance.
So, what is a trigger point? A trigger point is a local contracture or tight band in a muscle fiber that can disrupt function, restrict range of motion, refer pain or cause local tenderness. It is formed when a group of fibers in a muscle contract over time without the ability to relax. Trigger points are very common in the neck, upper back, lower back, buttocks, thighs and twin muscles.
What causes a trigger point?
Defensive muscle contraction around an injured area
Sharp and sudden movements
Stress or tension
Inserting the needle into the trigger point causes a twitch response and release of endogenous opioids that affect peripheral and central sensitivity. In addition, dry needling causes mechanical
disturbance of the non-functioning tissues, changes in the length and tension of the muscle fibers and stimulation of mechanosoceptors.
When dry needling is applied to a dysfunctional muscle or trigger point, it can decrease tightness, increase blood flow, and reduce local and referred pain.
What will I feel during the treatment?
The therapist will begin working the needle around trying to get the muscle to twitch. You can feel a dull achy pain, sometimes like a muscle twitch. These twitches can be sudden, startling, and sharp but are what the therapist is hoping to see. The twitch is what releases the muscle and retrains it to fire correctly. The twitches will probably hurt and will not be pleasant. Are they worth it? Absolutely.
After a few rounds of releasing the trigger points, your DN session will be over. Your treated muscles will be sore. It will feel like you had a really intense workout and they may feel really stiff or tight
At any rate, dry needling is not a stand alone treatment, it is always supplemented by stretches and/or strengthening exercises for long term effect. If the pain is not due to muscle pain, there is no place for the use of dry needling.
For any further questions, do not hesitate to contact me!