What is Dry Needling?

You have probably heard of people swearing by needling but what exactly is Dry Needling you may ask. Nope, it is not acupuncture or in anyway like it (other than the needles we use). Dry Needling uses small sterile needles and these needles are inserted directly into the “trigger points” in your muscle (also known as muscle knots) to give you pain relief! 

To understand how Dry Needling works, it is important to understand what Myofascial Trigger Points (MFTrP) are. Trigger points are nodules, knots, or tight muscle bands that develop in the muscle to cause abnormal movement and pain. This muscle region becomes locked and the muscle fibres are unable to slide along each other causing restriction in movement (reduced range of motion).

For successful management of trigger point pain, practitioners first identify all the areas associated with your presenting pain complaint. Once they are identified, needles are inserted into these locations to deactivate them. Treatment should be started as early as possible to avoid permanent changes. 


Electrotherapy

Electrotherapy (TENS) is the use of pulsed low-voltage electrical currents to stimulate sensory nerves of the body to provide relief for both acute and chronic pain.

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Neurodynamic Mobilisation

Neurodynamic mobilisation is one of the most effective therapies used to treat nerve pain associated with disorders such as a slipped disc, sciatica, or carpal tunnel syndrome.

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Dry Needling uses small sterile filiform needles inserted directly into myofascial trigger points to affect a physiologic change.

Information for First Time Patients

Is Dry Needling the same as acupuncture? Not quite. Unlike acupuncture, which claims to help with everything from fertility to anxiety, Dry Needling is very specific in its applications. Acupuncture is part of the East Asian healing arts known also as Traditional Chinese Medicine. Based on their beliefs, health can be attained through restoration of imbalances in the body’s energy known as “Qi”. This flow of the “Qi” energy can be changed through the insertion of needles into the meridian points located along their energy channels. Although Acupuncture has gained popularity and acceptance due to its safety, affordability and also effectiveness, the ancient theories and explanations of its healing do not fit into the current evidence-based framework.

Over the last twenty years, research efforts into explaining how acupuncture works (within the context of contemporary scientific understanding) have given rise to the practice of Dry Needling as we know it today. By observing the changes in the circulatory, neurological, muscular and immune systems, the positive effects of Dry Needling can be explained with modern anatomy, physiology, and pathology. There is a growing body of literature supporting the use of Dry Needling in clinical practice.

Do you sit for long hours at work? Dry Needling can give you a great deal of relief to your neck or low back aches or stiffness. Chiropractors and physiotherapists have been getting remarkable results from using Dry Needling for back and neck pain, headaches, muscle tension, knots and trigger points, even sciatica.

The benefits to Dry Needling is most certainly not limited to the spine. Patients with tennis elbow, rotator cuff issues, plantar fasciitis, and other sport injuries have also enjoyed significant improvement to their pain. Athletes experience great results with not only pain but also range of motion and flexibility after a few sessions of dry needling.  

Your chiropractor will help you get into a comfortable position on the chiropractic table with the treated area exposed. The affected region will be wiped down with alcohol wipes. One-time use, sterile needles will be inserted one at a time. Due to the thinness of the needle (0.2-0.3mm in diameter), patients typically do not perceive the needle sharpness but instead experience a dull  ache or soreness at the affected region. As the practitioner continue inserting the needle, a local twitch response may be elicited. The twitch response induces muscle relaxation reflex, ‘inflammation’ in the area is subsequently reduced.The needles stay in 5 to 15 minutes before they are removed.  

The needling of individual muscle feels slightly different muscle to muscle depending on the severity of the dysfunction as well as the size of the muscle.  A reproduction of patient’s symptoms is a great indicator of a successful treatment. Occasionally, patients may also experience mild soreness along the muscle belly or the referral pattern of the affected muscle. This is a normal response to needling. 

You may expect an increase in flexibility and range of motion immediately after your Dry Needling session. Most patients also report a decrease in muscle pain and stiffness.

It is common for a patient to feel soreness after the treatment. The residual soreness is due to the deactivation of the trigger points.

In rare cases, bruising may occur. This is due to the breakage of the surface capillaries under the skin. These bruises usually resolved in 2-3 days and are no different from bruising after traditional Chinese cupping or gua sha (read Smart Tools Therapy) treatment.

Congrats, your pain has gone away! Unfortunately, Trigger Point Dry Needling is not a long-term pain solution. The most critical next step in the effective management of your pain is addressing why you have the pain in the first place (read Dynamic Functional Alignment). These factors interfere with the capacity of the muscle to fully recover. They are the most common reasons for treatment failures. Your chiropractor will walk you through how you can address these issues for the best long-term results.