Dry Needling is the insertion of a fine, unmedicated, needle directly into irritated tissue that acts as a mechanical stimulus that is used to directly hit the targeted tissue to created a small localized inflammatory response thereby increasing blood flow to promote healing. “Trigger points” or Stubborn Tendonitis may form in muscles for a variety of reasons, presenting as a band within the muscle that is extremely taught because of a chronic contraction of that motor unit, essentially preventing it from turning off. This chronic use of energy and abnormal tension on the muscle can result in heightened sensitivity to touch, decrease strength output, and even impinge on other local tissues resulting in referral of pain further down the region.
A great deal of research has been done on treatments for these points, and Dry Needling has been shown to be beneficial for many patients in assisting these points in “deactivating” and allowing that tissue to relax through providing a novel manual stimulus to the affected tissue directly.
Many Patients Receiving Dry Needling Will Notice:
- Increase in flexibility in the affected muscle
- Increase in force output of the affected muscle
- Decrease of referred pain symptoms
- Easier progression of loading and flexibility exercise programs, and decreased time to recovery
Who Is a Good Candidate?
Dry Needling can provide relief to muscular tissue presenting with these taught points or bands presenting from most causes. These points, colloquially known as “knots” in our muscles, are easy for patients to self-identify. They will often feel like a small marble or ball of tender, hard tissue within the belly of a muscle. They will often also result in immediate referral of pain down a region as if pressing on a nerve when palpated. This therapy is specifically designed to address these tense regions within our muscles and can be utilized in almost any patient with this presentation.
Patients with bleeding disorders, extreme fear of needles, on medications that prevent clotting or promote excessive coagulation, or with tender points directly near vital neural or vascular tissue may be identified as contraindicated to this treatment by a practitioner.
How long before benefits are realized?
Most patients attempting Dry Needling will notice decreases in their affecting symptoms immediately. Due to the various causes of tender points such as muscular overuse, stress, or tissue trauma, additional interventions like targeted tissue loading through resistance training, flexibility training, mindfulness activities, and gradual exposure programs may be necessary to maintain these decreases and multiple sessions of intervention may be required over time to maintain relief depending on the cause and chronicity of your pain. You and your provider will be able to assess these causes and factors at your initial evaluation to determine and individualized plan of care to optimize your results with Dry Needling!