Dry Needling can be an effective treatment tool to decrease pain and tightness in muscles and restore healthy function.
Dry Needling is an effective and efficient technique for the treatment of muscular pain and myofascial dysfunction. It uses super-fine filament needles (similar to those used in acupuncture), which are inserted into the skin to directly affect the myofascia (muscles and fascia), with the aim to release tight muscles, relieve trigger points, reduce inflammation, improve flexibility and repair damaged soft tissue.
The main advantages of Dry Needling being it gets deeper into the muscle layer than massage alone and can be less painful than a deep tissue sports massage, whilst still obtaining often increased results, in a shorter period of time.
Dry Needling involves the insertion of super-fine acupuncture-type needle into the ‘trigger point’ of the muscle. The aim is to achieve a ‘twitch’ and/or release in the muscle, which is associated with reducing muscle tension and pain.
Acupuncture is a treatment modality used in Traditional Chinese Medicine which is based on ‘meridians’ (or channels) derived from ancient Chinese philosophy and culture. In traditional acupuncture, needles are inserted into defined acupoints, intended to unblock energy meridians and help create balance within bodily systems.
Dry Needling is based on Western anatomical and neurophysiological principles, whereby the needle is inserted into specific trigger points, tight bands of muscle or neural pathways, identified by the practitioner’s knowledge of anatomy, assessment and palpatory skills. Modern Dry Needling is based on current medical science and research known and accepted by today’s primary care, orthopaedic, neurologic and pain management physicians.
However, the positive effect on pain of inserting a needle is likely to be similar, whether administered as part of a Dry Needling or acupuncture treatment. The needles used in Dry Needling and acupuncture are identical.
It involves the insertion of a needle with no injection of a substance into the body, therefore making it 'dry'.
The exact mechanisms of Dry Needling are complex and not fully understood. However, there is a growing body of scientific evidence which illustrates and supports the positive effect inserting a needle has on the electrical and chemical communications which take place within our nervous system. These include preventing the transmission of pain signals in our spinal cord to our brain, where we ‘feel’ pain and increasing the release of our own pain-relieving chemicals within our brains, to prevent us ‘feeling’ pain.
Dry Needling uses a very fine, solid filament needle inserted into the soft tissue to initiate a sequence of events to replenish or repair the damaged tissue with new, healthy tissue.
When a painful ‘trigger point’ or muscular knot is needled it will often provokes a ‘twitch’ response from the muscle. Once the ‘twitch’ response has been elicited (and this only occurs in damaged tissue) the muscle fibres in that area relax, inflammation is reduced and circulation improves. As a result of these physiological processes, Dry Needling can directly address targeted muscle, tendon and myofascial pain and dysfunction.
The needles used are very fine filament needle and the insertion is not usually felt. The local ‘twitch’ response or sudden slight contraction of the muscle may provoke a very brief pain response. This can be described as an electric shock or a cramping sensation. This is very short-lasting, and patients soon learn to recognise this sensation as therapeutic as it is followed by a feeling of pain relief and muscle relaxation. The therapeutic ‘twitch’ response is a good and desirable reaction.
During treatment, and depending on the Dry Needling technique used, patients commonly experience heaviness in the limbs, a deep ache, referral of pain sensation and/or a pleasant feeling of relaxation.
The most common side effect is temporary muscle soreness following the treatment, this typically lasts for 24-48 hrs. However, as Dry Needling is often used in combination with other soft tissue techniques so it can be difficult to determine which technique caused any soreness post treatment. There are other less common side effects such as bruising. If you have any questions about side effects, please discuss this with your practitioner.
Dry Needling is a very safe treatment. All needles are individually packaged, single use, sterile needles. The needles are very fine (.16-.30mm), and very rarely does any bleeding or bruising occur at the insertion site.
Treatments are typically once a week, to allow enough recovery time between treatment sessions. However, this can vary. The number of treatments you will require will depend on many things, such as:
- How long you have had your tightness/injury/dysfunction
- The extent of your tightness/injury/dysfunction
- How long it takes to address the contributing factors
- How quickly your body can heal
Prior to treatment please inform your practitioner if you are pregnant, or have any of the following:
Dry Needling can be the treatment of choice when it comes to treating acute injuries, muscle spasms or muscle pattern imbalances. It can be a standalone treatment or combined with other soft tissue work.
The benefits of Dry Needling frequently include more than just relief from a particular condition. Many people find that it can also lead to increased energy levels, better appetite and sleep as well as an enhanced sense of overall wellbeing.