Dry needling, also called trigger point dry needling or myofascial trigger point dry needling, is done to reduce muscle tension and, in doing so, relieve pain. Active trigger points are highly sensitive and may be painful to the touch when pressed.
Being in pain doesn’t allow your body to move or function properly. This type of manual therapy changes how the brain and muscles communicate, allowing your nervous system, skeletal muscles, and connective tissues to return to a more normal movement pattern.
Dry needling uses a small, solid filiform needle that is inserted into a painful contracted and knotted muscle or trigger points to create a local twitch reflex. This is both diagnostic and therapeutic as it is the first step in breaking the pain cycle – as research shows, it decreases muscle contraction, reduces irritation, improves flexibility, and decreases pain.
This skilled intervention is often effectively performed on smaller muscle fibers or larger muscle groups in Western Medicine in the form of Physical Therapy and Chinese Medicine in the form of Chinese Acupuncture.
What Kind of Pain Does Dry Needling Treat?
Dry needling is a type of insertion of needles that is an excellent option for treating a variety of pain in patients. Dry needling is used to increase the range of motion that may be limited due to muscle tightness, muscle pain, or scar tissue.
Dry needling may also treat many musculoskeletal issues like:
- Acute pain and chronic pain
- Joint problems
- Migraine and tension-type headaches
- Jaw and mouth problems (such as temporomandibular joint disorders or TMD)
- Repetitive motion disorders (like carpal tunnel syndrome)
- Spinal problems
- Phantom pain
- Neck/back pain
- Shoulder pain
- Tennis/golfers elbow
- Hip and pelvic pain
- Knee pain
- Achilles tendonitis/tendonosis
- Plantar fasciitis
- Muscular strains/ligament sprains
- Athletic performance
Is Dry Needling the Same as Acupuncture?
Dry needle therapy is not the same as acupuncture. It uses similar tools, but that’s where the similarities end. Dry needling treats skeletal muscle tissue, and its goal is to reduce pain, inactivate trigger points and restore function.
Is Dry Needling Painful?
You may or may not feel the insertion of the needle. The specific needle manipulation is intended to produce a local twitch response that can elicit a very brief (less than a second) painful response that some patients describe as a deep ache or cramping sensation. The therapeutic response occurs with the elicitation of this local twitch response and is a desirable reaction.
A patient may experience different sensations, including muscle soreness, achy feelings, and muscle twitches when a needle is inserted. These are considered to be positive signs.
What Happens During a Dry Needling Treatment?
The first step of acupuncture treatment is assessing which muscles may contribute to the condition. Once this is defined, we are able to find the points in which nerves meet those muscles, known as motor points. When an acupuncture needle is used on a motor point with an electric impulse, it creates a contraction and relaxation phase, releasing tight contracted bands of muscle. This is like hitting a reset button on the muscle. The results are immediate pain relief and improved muscle contractibility and mobility. Movement impairments are corrected quickly.
Depending on the type of pain and how long it has been lasting, the needles may be inserted either deep or superficial. A shorter period of time means that the needle stays in the muscle for seconds; a longer period of time means 10 to 15 minutes.
Dr. Corbin uses this effectively as one of the pain control techniques. It is a unique style in the practice of acupuncture that relies heavily on knowledge of neurology and sports medicine. She is one of very few people in Miami to learn and practice Motor Point Acupuncture. Contact Healing Elephant to schedule your appointment today.