What is dry needling?
Dry needling is a skilled intervention that uses a thin filiform needle to penetrate the skin and stimulate underlying myofascial trigger points, muscular and connective tissue for the management of neuromusculoskeletal pain and movement impairments. It is a technique used to treat dysfunctions in skeletal muscle, fascia and connective tissue; to diminish persistent peripheral nociceptive input; and to reduce or restore impairments in body structure and function, leading to improved activity and participation. Source: www.apta.org/StateIssues/DryNeedling/ClinicalPracticeResourcePaper/
The dry needle used is very thin and there is no injectable solution. Inserting the needle can cause some pain, although this seldom occurs when done by well-trained practitioners. Proper dry needling of a myofascial trigger point will elicit a local twitch response (LTR), which is an involuntary spinal cord reflex in which fibers of the affected muscle contract. The LTR indicated the proper placement of the needle in the affected area. Dry needling that elicits LTR’s improves treatment outcomes.
NOCICEPTIVE PAIN - Examples include sprains, bone fractures, burns, bumps, bruises, inflammation (from an infection or arthritic disorder), obstructions, and myofascial pain (which may indicate abnormal muscle stresses).Nociceptors are the nerves which sense and respond to parts of the body which suffer from damage. They signal tissue irritation, impending injury, or actual injury. When activated, they transmit pain signals (via the peripheral nerves as well as the spinal cord) to the brain. The pain is typically well localized, constant, and often with an aching or throbbing quality. Visceral pain is the subtype of nociceptive pain that involves the internal organs. It tends to be episodic and poorly localized.
Why choose dry needling?
Musculoskeletal pains are not often explained form a muscle perspective. However, referred pain form muscle parts can mimic other musculoskeletal pains. These so called ‘myofascial trigger points’ are sources of persistent peripheral nociceptive input and their inactivation is consistent with current pain management insights.
Dry needling is not the same as acupuncture
Acupuncture practiced by acupuncturists and dry needling performed by physiotherapists differ in terms of historical, philosophical, indicative and practical context. Dry needling performed by physiotherapists is based on Western neuroanatomy and scientific studies of the musculoskeletal and nervous system. Physiotherapists who perform dry needling do not use traditional acupuncture theories of acupuncture terminology.
Acupuncture needling is often more superficial and several needles are used. The needles remain in for some time and have an effect on the ‘energy’ in the body. Dry needling uses one needle that only briefly stimulates the muscle and is not an ‘energy’ treatment.
What is a trigger point?
A trigger point is a ‘knot’ in a muscle which can cause local pain and often also referred pain. The physiotherapist will look for these spots because they can be one of the causes of your symptoms.
Trigger points can lead to:
- Pain/stiffness locally in a muscle pain and at a distance so called ‘referred pain’
- Mobility restrictions in nearby joints
- Less strength in the involved muscle
- Pain avoidance behavior – you are moving ‘differently’
- Tingling in the arm/leg, headaches or dizziness
How can trigger points start?
- Acute moment e.g., a wrong move(lifting), an accident or sports injury
- Chronic cause e.g., a prolonged poor posture or repetitive strain
- Prolonged lack of movement, e.g., in a brace or sling or frozen shoulder
- ‘Slack’ ligaments , e.g., in ankles or knees
- Psychological factors such as anxiety or depression
- Instability or leg length difference or foot problems
- Tight clothing or improper ergonomics, e.g., wearing a heavy backpack or purse
What is the treatment aimed at?
Treatment is aimed at eliminating these trigger points through targeted insertion of the tiny needle. In case of chronic complaints, the physiotherapist will often treat several muscles in your arm or leg, as well as some muscles along the spine.
What does dry needling feel like?
The needle is very thin, much thinner than the hollow needle used for injections or blood samples. You should not feel the needle entering your skin. If you muscle is affected, you may feel a peculiar sensation like a small muscle cramp. This is a distinctive type of ‘discomfort’ caused by the muscle grasping the needle. The needling has caused your abnormal muscle shortening to intensify for a moment then release, followed by relaxation. It is important that you experience this sensation in order to gain lasting results.
What can I expect following a treatment?
Occasionally, some symptoms become worse before they improve. This usually only lasts 1 to 2 days. Some people obtain relief immediately and some patients notice improvement after a few hours. Most people require several treatments before responding; some do not respond. The number of treatments required varies with each person and condition.
Try to do these things after the treatment
- Rest, if possible
- Apply heat or ice, if necessary
- Drink plenty of water
- Avoid strenuous activities for 1 to 2 days
- Continue to take medications as directed by your physician
For more information visit: http://dryneedlingcanada.com/