Dry Needling and Muscle Pain

November 17, 2017

What is trigger point dry needling?

Trigger point dry needling is a procedure in which a solid filament needle is inserted into the skin and muscle directly into a myofascial trigger point. A myofascial trigger point consists of multiple taut bands of muscle tissue, which are related to localized and referred pain and continuation of the pain cycle. Trigger points cause reduced range of motion, weakness, and increased pain. The goal of dry needling is to provide pain relief and improve motor impairments..

Is dry needling similar to acupuncture?

The filament needles utilized in both practices are similar, however the philosophy behind their use are different. Acupuncture is an Eastern medicine practice where filament needles are used to assist in correcting issues in the body’s meridians and overal qi, or flow. Physical therapists in a growing number of states are allowed to use dry needling in their scope of practice with proper training. Dry needling is based on a Western medicine philosophy of practice and is based on the anatomy of the human body and palpation of muscle tissue to determine the specific location of myofascial trigger points for treatment.

How does dry needling work?

As stated by the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapists, research supports that dry needling improves pain control, reduces muscle tension, normalizes biochemical and electrical dysfunction of motor end plates, and facilitates an accelerated return to active rehabilitation.

How long does it take the procedure to work?

It typically takes one to several visits for a positive reaction to take place because we are trying to bring about mechanical and biochemical changes without any pharmacological means. We are looking for a carryover response to achieve a certain threshold after which the pain cycle is disturbed.

Why is my physician not familiar with dry needling?

In the United States, dry needling is a relatively new method for treating myofascial pain, and not all medical professionals are aware of this effective modality. Feel free to inform your doctor about this treatment option. It is upon all of us to educate others about new and innovative treatments designed to alleviate pain without the use of medication.

Once I am feeling better, how often do I need to come back to maintain my progress?

The musculoskeletal system is under constant pressure from gravity, stress, work, etc. A regular exercise program combined with good posture can prevent many problems, and no further treatment may be necessary. If the pain returns, treatment may be resumed to treat and prevent serious injuries.

Lisa Zimmerman MSPT, CMTPT is a Certified Manual Trigger Point Therapist in Dry Needling from Myopain Seminars and sees patients at our Annapolis Maryland office. Dry needling is available at our Salisbury, Easton and Annapolis offices in Maryland, and our Millville and Lewes offices in Delaware.