Medical Acupuncture/ Dry Needling
Trigger-point dry needling is a procedure where a fine needle or acupuncture needle is inserted into the skin and muscle. It is aimed at myofascial trigger points (MTrP) which are very irritable spots in skeletal muscle that are associated with a hypersensitive palpable nodule in a taut band.
Dry Needling is primarily focused on the reduction of pain and restoration of function through the release of myofascial trigger points in muscle.
What is a Myofascial Trigger Point?
A myofascial trigger point, also known as a knot in the muscle, is a group of muscle fibres which have shortened when activated but have not been able to lengthen back to a relaxed state after use. A myofascial trigger point is characterised by the development of a sensitive nodule in the muscle (Simons, Travell & Simons, 1999). This occurs as the muscle fibres become so tight that they compress the capillaries and nerves that supply them (McPartland, 2004; Simons, et al., 1999). As a result, the muscle is unable to move normally, obtain a fresh blood supply containing oxygen and nutrients, or flush out additional acidic chemicals (McPartland, 2004; Simons, et al., 1999). In addition to this nodule, the remainder of the muscle also tightens to compensate (Simons, et al., 1999; Simons, 2002). The presence of a myofascial trigger point in a muscle can lead to discomfort with touch, movement and stretching; to decreased movement at a joint; and even a temporary loss of coordination (Simons, et al., 1999).
When is it Appropriate to Use Dry Needling as a Form of Treatment?
Dry Needling can be used in treatment:
to help release myofascial trigger points (muscle knots);
to assist with pain management, and;
to restore movement at a joint if inhibited by myofascial trigger points.
What Will You Feel During Dry Needling Treatment?
During a Dry Needling treatment, you may feel a slight sting as the needle is inserted and removed. However, this discomfort should last no longer than a second before settling.
A brief muscle twitch can also be experienced during a Dry Needling treatment. This may occur during treatment when the needle is inserted into a myofascial trigger point.
Where Does Dry Needling Fit Within Your Rehabilitation Program?
Dry Needling is one of many techniques that can be utilised by your physiotherapist to assist with your rehabilitation. Dry Needling is often used in combination with other techniques including massage, manual therapy, and exercise prescription.
What are the Side Effects of Dry Needling?
Every form of treatment can carry associated risk. Your physiotherapist can explain the risks and can determine whether Dry Needling is suitable for you based on your injury and your general health.
When Dry Needling is performed, single-use, sterile needles are always used and disposed of immediately after use into a certified sharps container.
Is Dry Needling Safe?
Everybody is different and can respond differently to various treatment techniques, including Dry Needling. In addition to the benefits that Dry Needling can provide, there are a number of side effects that may occur, including spotting or bruising, fainting, nausea, residual discomfort or even altered energy levels. However, these symptoms should last no longer than 24 to 48 hours after treatment.
Can You Exercise After Dry Needling?
It is recommended to avoid strenuous or high impact activities immediately after Dry Needling, to allow the body time to recover, and to maximise the benefits of the treatment.