Giselle MacLeod, Physiotherapist, at Portland Physiotherapy Health and Wellness Centre became certified in Dry Needling techniques in April 2015. Trigger point dry needling (TDN) is an effective therapy to treat muscular tension and spasm which commonly accompanies conditions such as arthritis, nerve irritation, muscular strain, ligament strains and herniated discs. It is called “Dry” Needling because there is no solution injected as with a hypodermic needle during a flu shot. With Dry Needling, the needle itself and the effects it produces within the tissue is the treatment.
When an injury occurs from repetitive use or acute trauma, inflammation will be produced from the damaged tissues. The damaged tissues will also go into a protective tension state or contracture to guard against further damage from utilizing the injured tissue. This contracture and inflammation inhibit microcirculation which limits both the oxygen rich blood reaching the injury and the waste products leaving the injury. The injury site becomes hypoxic (decreased in oxygen) which stimulates the body to produce fibroblasts, a cell that produces fibrosis or scar tissue. This fibrosis and scarring builds up around the muscles and tissues limiting the tissues ability to fully function (lengthen/shorten) and can also cause compression and irritation of nerves (such as carpal tunnel syndrome) – all of which inevitably lead to biomechanical disturbances in gait and function.
TDN uses a small, solid filament needle which is inserted in a contracted painful knotted muscle to create a local twitch reflex which is both diagnostic and therapeutic as it is the first step in breaking the pain cycle as research shows will decrease muscle contraction, reduce chemical irritation, improve flexibility and decrease pain. When a needle is inserted into muscle it will also produce a controlled lesion and will cut between three to fifteen thousand individual muscle fibers. The body considers the needle as a foreign invader and will activate the immune system as a response. The cut muscle fibers also produce an inflammatory reaction that your body will respond to not just locally but all over the body to reduce inflammation systemically.
What Types of Conditions Can Dry Needling Assist?
- Neck/Back Pain
- Shoulder Pain
- Tennis/Golfers Elbow
- Hip and Gluteal Pain
- Knee Pain
- Achilles Tendonitis/Tendonosis
- Plantar Fasciitis
- Muscular Strains/Ligament Sprains
- Chronic Pain
- Athletic Performance
Is Trigger Point Dry Needling Acupuncture?
No, Trigger Point Dry Needling is based on Western medical research and principles, whereas acupuncture is based on Traditional Chinese Medicine. The main similarity is that the same sterile, disposable solid filament needles are used.
What can I expect after treatment?
We are looking to get improvements even from the first visit such as increased range of motion, ease of movement and decreased signs/symptoms. Many patients report being sore after the treatment in both the area treated and the area of referred symptoms. Typically this soreness lasts between a few hours and two days and there is occasional bruising. Soreness may be alleviated by applying ice or heat to the area and performing specific stretches for the treated muscle.