Dry needling is specifically utilised to target and restore muscle function by improving tissue healing and reducing pain eliciting trigger points. It is based on western medicine and neuro-physiological principles. A dry needle is a once only use sterile solid filament acupuncture needle. Your myotherapist palpates specific muscles to locate trigger points within the tissue that may be contributing to a patients pain or dysfunction. The dry needle is inserted after the skin has been disinfected into the trigger point to produce a local muscle twitch response. This twitch response deactivates the trigger point, thus releasing muscle tension and pain, and also allowing the body's biochemistry to produce a natural analgesic.
A trigger point is not to be confused with an acupuncture point. Although approximately 70% of trigger points coinside with acupuncture points, trigger points are specifically treated for the restoration of musculoskeletal pain or dysfunction. These trigger points commonly produce localised and referred pain patterns and are an important aspect to treat when a patient is experiencing pain. Acupuncture on the other hand works by redirecting the flow of energy, known as chi, within the body by inserting needles along meridians -Traditional Chinese Medicine pathways. Acupuncture is used to treat various physical and mental conditions.
During the process of dry needling, patients can experience heaviness in the limbs and a feeling of relaxation. Like with manual hands on trigger point release you can experience some local muscle soreness for 24 - 48 hours. Heat is generally recommended after a dry needling treatment to the area.
Common conditions that dry needling can be beneficial for in conjunction with other treatment techniques include:
rotator cuff pain, muscular tightness associated with back and neck pain, shin splints, golfers and tennis elbow, jaw pain, calf tightness associated with achilles tendinopathy and plantar fasciitis.
If you are coming in for dry needling it is important that you have eaten and are not tired as some people can feel a bit light headed after treatment, and always let your therapist know if you are pregnant or are taking blood thinner medications.