Dry Needling

Intramuscular Manual Therapy is a treatment technique that can help to decrease pain, increase mobility, and improve function. Dry Needling involves inserting a very small, thin needle into tight and restricted muscles, specifically into the trigger point. A large population, including professional athletes, are using this technique to effectively treat acute and chronic orthopedic musculoskeletal conditions.

At Reneu, dry needling is combined with soft tissue work and joint mobilizations to promote overall improvements in function. Improvement in symptoms and performance are generally seen within 2-4 treatment sessions, but may vary depending on the cause and duration of the symptoms.

 To read more about dry needling from the American Physical Therapy Association, click here.

FAQs

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. Physical therapists utilize trigger point dry needling in the treatment of Myofascial pain. A Myofascial trigger point consists of multiple contraction knots, which are related to the production and maintenance of the pain cycle.

Is trigger point dry needling similar to acupuncture?

There are many similarities and differences between trigger point dry needling and acupuncture. Licensed physical therapists in a growing number of states can use trigger point dry needling under the scope of the practice. Physical therapists at Reneu are not licensed acupuncturists and do not practice acupuncture. In contrast to most schools of acupuncture that are based off of Eastern medicine principles, trigger point dry needling is strictly based on Western medicine principles and research.

How does trigger point dry needling work?

The exact mechanisms of trigger point dry needling are unknown. There are mechanical and biomechanical effects. Based on the pioneering studies by Dr. Jay Shah and colleagues at the National Institute of Health, we know that inserting a needle into trigger points can cause favorable biomechanical changes, which assist in reduction pain. It is essential to elicit the so-called local twitch responses, which are spinal cord reflexes. Getting local twitch responses with trigger point dry needling is the first step in breaking the pain cycle.

What type of problems can be treated with trigger point dry needling?

Trigger point dry needling can be used for a variety of musculoskeletal problems. Muscles are thought to be a primary contributing factor to the symptoms. Such conditions include, but are not limited to neck, back, and shoulder pain, arm pain (tennis elbow, carpal tunnel, golfer’s elbow), headaches to include migraines and tension-type headaches, jaw pain, buttock pain and leg pain (sciatica, hamstring strains, calf tightness/spasms). The treatment of muscles has the greatest effect on reducing the pain mechanisms in the nervous system.

Is the procedure painful?

Most patients do not feel the insertion of the needle. The local twitch response elicits a very brief (less than a second) painful response. Some patients describe this as a little electric shock; others feel it more like a cramping sensation. Again, the therapeutic response occurs with the elicitation of local twitch responses and that is a good and desirable reaction.

Are the needles sterile?

Yes, we only use sterile needles.

What side effects can I expect after the treatment?

Most patients report being sore after the procedure. The soreness is described as a muscle soreness over the area treated and into the areas of referred symptoms. Typically, the soreness last between a few hours and two days.

What should I do after having the procedure done?

Our recommendations vary depending on the amount of soreness you have an on the individual response to the treatment. Recommendations may include applying heat or ice over the area, gentle stretches and modifications of activities.

How long does it take for the procedure to work?

Typically, it takes several visits for a positive reaction to take place. Again, we are trying to cause mechanical and biomechanical changes without any pharmacological means. Therefore, we are looking for a cumulative response to achieve a certain threshold after which the pain cycle is disturbed. Some people feel relief immediately or a few days after their session.

Why is my doctor not familiar with trigger point dry needling?

In the US, trigger point dry needling is a relatively new method for treating myofascial pain and not everyone is already aware of this effective modality. Feel free to inform you doctor about this treatment option. IT is upon all of us to educate others about new and innovative ways to treat pain.

Where does trigger point dry needling fit into the entire rehab program?

Generally speaking, trigger point dry needling is the modality of choice when it comes to treating patients in the clinic. More frequently, trigger point dry needling is needed in the beginning in order to break the pain cycle. Once that is achieved, other treatment options are introduced.

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 and self myofascial work can prevent many problems. If the pain comes back, “tune-ups” are recommended to treat and prevent reoccurrence of injuries.

Where can i get more information about the procedure and the people that are licensed to perform it?

Visit www.painpoints.com and choose “For Patients” and then “Helpful Resources.”