What is dry needling?
Dry needling is also called trigger point dry needling or myofascial trigger point dry needling. It is done by acupuncturists, some chiropractors, medical doctors, and some physical therapists (PTs) to treat myofascial pain. The word “myofascial” is made up of the roots “myo” (which refers to muscle) and “fascia” (which refers to the tissue that connects muscle).
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). Clinicians push thin solid needles through the skin into trigger points. The needles are used to stimulate the tissue, not to inject the medication.
Pain affects how your body moves. It is thought that dry needling changes the way the brain and muscles talk to each other to let the system return to a more normal movement pattern.
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 needle would stay in the muscle for seconds, while longer periods could mean 10 to 15 minutes.
How may dry needling help?
- Relax tight muscles.
- Improve blood flow.
- Decrease pain & release neurotransmitters.
- Improve movement.
- Treat chronic pain.
What are dry needling side effects?
Many patients do not experience any side effects following a dry needling session. When side effects do occur, they are most often mild. Dry needling side effects include:
- Temporary increase in pain.
- Bruising or bleeding.
- Fatigue and tiredness.
- Skin reactions.