Sports and Remedial Body Work - Trigger Point Therapy and Dry Needling
Dry needing (DN) uses acupuncture needles in trigger points (or muscle knots) as a therapy to treat muscular pain and referred pain, and is not based on the Qi energy meridians of traditional acupuncture.
Depending on the presenting symptoms and the location of the trigger points or referred pain, the needles could be positioned either superficially or deep. When in the correct place, I will adjust the needle in order to elicit a response from the muscle, which results in the muscle releasing its tension and pain.
Some trigger points can also be released through the use of firm pressure and not dry needling.
How Does Dry Needling Work?
Trigger points or muscle knots, and referred pain, form in muscles when they are short and tight from being over-used, or because they are weak and not working well due to a lack of exercise or from nervous system stressors. The mechanism for how dry needling works is that the needle causes micro-damage of the muscle fiber, thereby bringing blood to the area and stimulating the release of repair hormones and other factors that lessen pain. Also, the metal needle stimulates the flow of calcium delivered to the muscle through the cellular cistern, which helps improve the function of the muscles. Calcium is required to make and break chemical bonds when the muscle fibers slide across each other during contraction and lengthening.
Is Dry Needling Risky or Painful?
I have a sound knowledge and understanding of anatomy, and have undertaken training in Dry Needling techniques and procedures. Each needle is used only once, and disposed of after use in a Sharps container.
Acupuncture needles are very fine (0.25mm diameter). This, along with my knowledge and understanding of anatomy, makes is very unlikely the needle would damage structures such as nerves or blood vessels. It is also very unlikely that dry needling would worsen the trigger points or referred pain.
Generally the muscle ache during dry needling therapy is no greater than the usual ‘good’ ache during a deep tissue massage. Any after treatment soreness from dry needling is usually less than deep tissue massage as the overlying skin and connective tissue is less likely to be inflamed.
If the dry needling is painful and you want it stopped, I can quickly remove the needle, which will cause the pain to stop.
When Should I Try Dry Needling?
Presenting symptoms that have responded well and improved greatly following dry needling include shoulder and neck pain, upper and lower leg pain, tennis and golfers elbow, carpel tunnel and other wrist problems, as well as TMJ (jaw) issues.
Dry needling usually works quickly with an immediate improvement noticed after the first treatment, however sometimes several sessions are required to relieve deep seated trigger point or referred pain issues. I often combine dry needling and remedial massage techniques during the one treatment session.
Some people have a preference for dry needling to treat trigger point (muscular knots) and referred pain because of the positive results it gives them. However, dry needling is invasive and it carries slightly more risk than remedial massage therapy alone. Given this, I prefer to use dry needling only if the presenting symptoms have responded poorly to remedial massage techniques.
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