What is Trigger Point Dry Needling?
Trigger Point Dry Needling is an invasive procedure in which a solid filament needle is inserted into the skin and muscle directly at a myofascial trigger point. It involves insertion and repetitive manipulation of the needle in the myofascial trigger point in order to produce a local twitch response. This twitch response results in muscle relaxation due to the release of shortened bands of muscle fibers. This is termed “dry” needle because there are no chemicals or medications injected through the needle.
A myofascial trigger point is a hyper irritable spot in a muscle, which is painful to touch and is located in a taut (tight) band.
This hypersensitive spot, also known as a nodule or knot, can give characteristic referred pain, referred tenderness, and other referred symptoms in areas other than where the muscle is located. It is also related to the production and maintenance of the pain cycle!
Inserting a needle into trigger points can cause favorable biochemical changes and decrease inflammation, which results in reduced pain. It is essential to elicit local twitch responses, which are spinal cord reflexes. Getting local twitch responses with dry needling is the first step in breaking the pain cycle.
Deactivation of the trigger points can bring immediate relief of symptoms. The muscles are then immediately trained to work in their newly-gained pain free range of motion. Trigger point dry needling therapy can help treat the following conditions:
- Myofascial Pain
- Neck and Back Pain
- Chronic Pain
- Movement Disorders
- Sprains or Strains
- Muscle Imbalances
- Sports Injuries
- Joint Pain of Myofascial Origin
Trigger Point Dry Needling Advantage
The advantage over other techniques is that we can treat the deeper layers of muscles in which our hands and fingers are not able to reach. This method is also far superior in achieving a local twitch response over other manual techniques.
In addition, there are no drugs used so we can treat many trigger points during each treatment.
Deactivation of trigger points can bring immediate relief of symptoms. Then we can immediately train the muscles to work in their newly-gained pain free range of motion. Thus, the results achieved with dry needling cannot be obtained with any other treatment.
Acupuncture and Dry Needling
Although they might seem to have many similarities, acupuncture and dry needling are two very different treatments. Acupuncture aims to achieve pain relief and alleviate inflammation by affecting systemic changes via the “meridians” in the body, or energy channels. Dry needling on the other hand achieves pain relief by inactivating trigger points resulting in muscle relaxation due to the release of shortened bands of muscle fibers.
Dry needling must not be confused with any type of acupuncture. The providers at Alkaline Wellness Center are not acupuncturists. Acupuncture has its roots in traditional Chinese Medicine, however, dry needling is strictly based on Western medicine principles and research. All providers at Alkaline Wellness Center have completed the additional, extensive course study and have obtained the qualification to practice the skill of Intramuscular Manual Therapy, or dry needling.
Trigger point dry needling treatment is never a treatment by itself. It is always done in conjunction with other forms of Alkaline Healing. These may include specific movements, postural training, breath work, biochemical balancing, education, and other hands-on techniques, such as soft tissue work and manipulation.
Typically, we will use dry needling techniques once or twice a week to deactivate the trigger points in conjunction with your other treatment. There is no specific pre-set number of treatments for patients with pain of myofascial origin. Chronic conditions may require more treatments than acute conditions.
In addition, the amount of treatments will depend on concurrent medical conditions, your compliance with the exercises, your everyday activity level, and on the number of visits recommended by your Alkaline Provider.
You will be in a comfortable position, usually lying on your stomach, your side, or on your back. When the needle is inserted you may feel a little prick through the skin. However, when the muscle is relaxed, you will not feel the needle at all.
If the muscle is tight, there will be some soreness. When the needle touches the trigger point it will elicit a local twitch response. This twitch is very brief and unexpected. It can be momentarily painful. During your visit, multiple trigger points in several areas will be treated.
You may experience muscular soreness following treatment. This is due to the lactic acid release from the muscle, which may cause the treated areas to become sore. We at Alkaline Wellness Center recommend that you rest at least 24 hours prior to engaging in any exercises. This discomfort will be lessened by drinking water, applying heat, and stretching. Medications like Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) or Aleve may also help, although you should consult with your physician before taking any medications.