Dry needling is also known as trigger point dry needling or myofascial trigger point dry needling. The word “myofascial” is made up of the roots “myo” (which refers to muscle) and “fascia” (which refers to the tissue that connects muscle). It appears similar to acupuncture in the way a patient is treated.
How does it work?
Muscles sometimes develop knotted areas called trigger points. These trigger points are highly sensitive and can be painful when touched. They are also often the cause of referred pain (or pain that affects another part of the body). Physician uses solid filiform needles, which pierce a specific trigger point in order to stimulate a particular effect. These needles are very thin, so they are easily pushed through the skin without pain or bleeding.
What kind of symptoms do the dry needling treat?
Dry needling is almost always used as a part of an overall plan that will likely include some type of exercise, manual therapy, heat therapy, and education. Dry needling is used to increase range of motion that may be limited due to muscle tightness or scar tissue. Dry needling may also relieve some of the symptoms such as:
- Joint problems
- Disc 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
- Pelvic pain
- Night cramps
- Phantom pain
- Post-herpetic neuralgia (pain left behind by shingles)
How does it feel like?
A patient may experience different sensations when being needled, muscle soreness, aching and a muscle twitch when a needle is inserted is considered to be a good sign. The needles may be placed deeply or superficially, for shorter or longer periods of time, depending on what type of pain is being treated and how long it has lasted. Shorter periods of time would mean that the needle would stay in the muscle for seconds, while longer periods could mean 10 to 15 minutes.
Are there reasons I should not/ should be cautious to get dry needling as part of my treatment?
- Pregnant women
- People who are very afraid of needles
- Patients who are taking blood thinners