What is dry needling?
Dry Needling involves multiple advances of a fine filament needle into the muscle in the region of a “Trigger Point’. The aim of Dry Needling is to achieve a local twitch response to release muscle tension and pain. Dry needling is an effective treatment for chronic pain of neuropathic origin with very few side effects. This technique is unequalled in finding and eliminating neuromuscular dysfunction that leads to pain and functional deficits. The needle used is very thin and most subjects do not even feel it penetrate the skin. A healthy muscle feels very little discomfort with insertion of this needle. However if the muscle is sensitive and shortened or has active trigger points within it, the subject will feel a sensation like a muscle cramp -‘the twitch response’. The patient also may feel a reproduction of “their” pain which is a helpful diagnostic indicator for the practitioner attempting to diagnose the cause of the patient’s symptoms. Patients soon learn to recognise and even welcome this sensation as it results in deactivating the trigger point, reducing pain and restoring normal length function to the involved muscle.
How does it work?
In Dry Needling a solid filament needle is inserted into the skin and muscle directly at a myofascial trigger point. Once inserted the needles are manipulated by the Physio until a sensation is felt (often a twitch and/or ache associated with the needle). Techniques vary from inserting the needle and leaving it in for 15 minutes or so with occasional manipulation.
The way it works is through complex neural pathways and chemical releases in the body. A simplified explanation follows:
- A local flow of blood is promoted to the injured part for healing.
- The neural pathway that causes pain is inhibited or ‘blocked’ to some extent.
- Endorphins (the body’s natural painkillers) are released to ease the pain and inhibit the pain/inflammatory cycle.
What are the benefits of dry needling?
The rewards of investing time in attaining excellent assessment skills and needle technique are:
- Equal or better effect than other manual techniques
- Lack of ‘post-treatment soreness’ which is normally experienced after manual therapy
- Normally minimal pain compared to other manual therapy techniques
- Normally less treatment sessions required to achieve recovery compared to manual therapy
- Relieves pain and tightness associated with muscles.
What is the difference between dry needling and acupuncture?
Acupuncture is based on the Traditional Chinese Medicine Theory where needles are inserted along “energy channels” to affect energy flow, usually inserted only about 2mm.
Dry needling is based on western medicine and scientific research and utilises our knowledge of anatomy, pathophysiology and modern scientific research. The primary focus is to needle muscles, joints, ligaments and nerves which harbor trigger points and/or pain. Inserted deeper than 2mm.
What can you treat with dry needling?
The following list provides a brief overview of some of the types of conditions that can be treated with dry needling. If you have a condition that is not listed, please contact us for more information.
- Sprained ankle (or a sprain of any other joint, including your back/neck)
- Plantar fasciitis
- Tendonitis (of any tendon)
- Muscle strains
- Ligament injuries
- Joint pain, eg. knee, hip or back pain
- Sciatica (or other neural pain)
- Overuse injuries or Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSI)