What is Dry Needling?

dry needling

Dry needling is an invasive procedure in which a thin filament needle is inserted into the skin and muscle directly at a myofascial trigger point. A myofascial trigger point is a focus of small muscle fibre contraction knots, which are related to the production and maintenance of the pain cycle. They often occur as a result of neuromuscular dysfunction and in areas of musculoskeletal stress.

How does dry needling work?
There are mechanical and biochemical effects. Based on many research studies, we know that inserting a needle into trigger points can cause favourable biochemical changes, which assist in reducing pain. It is essential to elicit so-called local twitch responses, which are spinal cord reflexes. Local twitch response with dry needling is the first step in breaking the pain cycle.

What type of problems can be treated with dry needling?
Dry needling can be used for a variety of musculoskeletal problems. Neuromuscular dysfunction and imbalances are thought to be a primary contributing factor to the symptoms. Such conditions include, but are not limited to neck, back and shoulder pain, arm pain (tennis elbow, carpal tunnel, golfer’s elbow), headache to include migraines and tension-type headaches, jaw pain, buttock pain and leg pain (sciatica, hamstrings strains, calf tightness/spasms). The treatment of muscles has the greatest effect on reducing pain mechanisms in the nervous system.

Is the procedure painful?
Most patients do not feel the insertion of the needle. The local twitch response elicits a very brief (less than a second) painful response. Some patients describe this as a little electrical shock; others feel it more like a cramping sensation. Again, the therapeutic response occurs with the elicitation of local twitch responses and that is a good and desirable reaction.

Are the needles sterile?
Yes, we only use sterile disposable needles.

What should I do after having the procedure done?
Mild soreness is a common after the procedure. The soreness is described as muscle soreness over the area treated and into the areas of referred symptoms. Typically, the soreness lasts a few hours. Our recommendations vary depending on the amount of soreness you have and on the individual response to the treatment. Recommendations may include applying heat or ice over the area, gentle stretches and modifications of activities or analgesic medications such as paracetamol.

How long does it take for the procedure to work?
Often, you can achieve immediate results, typically, it may take several visits to prevent recurrence of your symptoms. Again, we are trying to cause mechanical and biochemical changes without any pharmacological means. Therefore, we are looking for a cumulative response to achieve a certain threshold after which the pain cycle is disturbed.

Where does dry needling fit in the entire rehabilitation program?
Dry needling is the modality of choice when it comes to treating acute injuries, muscle spasms, muscle pattern imbalances and neurological referred pain like sciatica. It is very common to initiate dry needling at the beginning of your treatment program in order to break the pain cycle. Once that is achieved, other treatment options are introduced.

Once I am feeling better, how often do I need to come back to maintain my progress?
Most of the time once the dysfunction or imbalance has been corrected the body will often maintain the appropriate balance. However, the musculoskeletal system is under constant stress from the demands of varying postures, gravity, psychological and emotional states etc. A regular exercise program combined with good posture can prevent many problems. If the pain comes back, occasional sessions are recommended to treat and prevent serious injuries.

Contact us here at PhysioPlus, Chartered Physiotherapy and Sports Injury Clinic on 057-8660663 for advise on whether Dry Needling is suitable for your injury or pain.