Trigger point dry needling is a technique used in physiotherapy to treat pain and movement impairments. It involves inserting a ‘dry’ needle through the skin and into the muscle without the use of any medication. This approach believes that the prick of a small needle has the power to ease painful, knotted muscles called myofascial ‘trigger points’.
A myofascial trigger point is a hyperirritable spot within a taut, ropey band of muscle. It results in “referred pain” or pain is felt at a site different from the affected area. Trigger points are classified into two – active and latent. In the case of an active trigger point, it is a movement that can set off pain. With a latent trigger point, pain or discomfort can be elicited in response to compression. Patients with myofascial trigger points also experience clinical characteristics such as local twitch response, muscle tightness, and local myasthenia.
How Dry Needling Works
Taut bands of muscles can result in knots because they are not relaxing and contracting as they should be. With dry needling therapy, a thin filiform needle is allowing therapists to get directly at that affected spot. What the needle does is disrupt those tight bands of muscles, causing them to relax. It is designed to stimulate muscular and connective tissues in order to promote blood flow and healing. It can also have a quieting effect on the nerves.
Dry needling is usually a part of an overall treatment plan that will likely include manual therapy, exercise, and education. Apart from being a myofascial trigger point pain relief, it can also be beneficial for a wide variety of diagnoses. It is used in treating tension-type headaches, tendinitis, night cramps, repetitive motion disorders, pelvic pain, and more. Those who are suffering from painful muscle knots are very good candidates for dry needling. Of course, they will need the go signal from their doctor.
During the treatment, a patient may experience different sensations. Dry needling can be carried out at superficial or deep tissue level depending on the type of condition and severity of pain. Expect the muscle to twitch while the needle is being inserted. The needles can be placed on the affected area for seconds or up to 15 minutes. Muscle soreness and aching are considered to be good signs.
Here are some other points to know about trigger point dry needling:
- It is different from acupuncture. Acupuncture vs dry needling has been a controversial topic for some time, but the two have very different philosophies. Acupuncture is used in traditional Chinese medicine and applies treatment according to the flow of Qi. Dry needling is focused on myofascial pain.
- It is backed by research. Trigger point dry needling is rooted in medical science. While there’s still a lot more research to be done, it has been “deemed safe and effective, and consistent with the general scope of practice for a physical therapist.”
- It is only a part of therapy. Dry needling is not used in isolation. Instead, it is used to augment physical therapy. A patient may already have been receiving physical therapy from sports physiotherapists but still need dry needling to achieve meaningful change in the muscle tissue.
The effectiveness of dry needling can also depend greatly on the skill of the therapist to accurately identify myofascial trigger points. If you are considering including dry needling in your treatment plan, consult with the best physiotherapy clinic in Dubai Marina and JLT today! The therapists at Scandinavian Physiotherapy Center DMCC are trained at providing pain relief and restoration of muscle activation and strength through dry needling. Book an appointment by calling +971 4 551 6126.