Physiotherapy interventions now encapsulate a wide variety of treatment strategies, and one in particular is intriguing both
patients and health professionals alike: Dry Needling.
Although not a new technique by any means ( the origin of Dry Needling, Acupuncture as used in Traditional Chinese Medicine
was first used was approximately 2000 years ago), Dry Needling is becoming a more widely-used strategy in treating a wide
range of sporting injuries and musculoskeletal conditions.
It is an intervention for treating not only acute symptoms, but also chronic pain, with minimal side effects
What is Dry Needling?
The term itself describes a solid, dry filament acupuncture needle being directly inserted into a trigger point within the muscle
tissue itself. Myofascial trigger points are tender spots in a tight, taut band of muscle, which often causes pain and discomfort
when squeezed or pressed. These points arise as a result of musculoskeletal stress or neuropathic dysfunction, and can produce
and maintain the pain cycle.
How does Dry Needling work?
There are numerous explanations as to how Dry Needling works, as it can result in both biochemical and mechanical effects.
One commonly-accepted theory is that by inserting needles directly into these hyper-sensitive myofascial trigger points,
a local twitch response can be stimulated, setting off a cascade of reactions which provides a therapeutic effect by stimulating
the inflammatory response and deactivating these points. This reduces muscular shortening and tightness, and can also decrease
pressure on the nerve itself, altering the pain response, releasing muscular tension and breaking the pain cycle.
Will it hurt?
The acupuncture needles are extremely thin, and a majority of patients do not even feel it penetrate the skin. Upon first insertion,
its quite likely you will feel a pin-prick or something similar to a mosquito bite, but if the muscle being needled is shortened, contains active trigger points or is sensitive, you may feel a “ muscle cramp ” sensation or vibration, which is also known as “ the twitch response ”.
Following this, you may feel a dull ache in the region being needled, and if you feel anything other than this, it is important you
communicate this to your Physiotherapist. The depth of penetration and length of time the needles remain inserted varies, depending on the injury, location and you levels of comfort. You may experience some post-treatment temporary muscle soreness in the following 24-48 hours, but your Physiotherapist will advise you on strategies to minimise this. The length of receiving Dry Needling treatment
is also highly dependent on the individual and particular musculoskeletal condition.
What benefits can I expect from the treatment?
Dry Needling is fantastic for:
- Deactivating trigger points (hypersensitive bands
of taut tissue within muscles)
- Restoration of normal muscle length and function
- Decreased pain and tenderness
- Reducing postural discomfort and
Can Dry Needling be used on everyone?
It is important to discuss your present health with your Physiotherapist prior to implementing this intervention,
as there are several Contraindications to the treatment which include:
- Cardiac conditions including Congenital valve disease, unstable angina,
recent surgery or acute cardiac arrhythmias
- Open wounds
- Metal allergies
- In some cases, joint replacement
- Oedema, infections, haematoma
- Bleeding Disorders
- Some psychological disorders
- Immediately post radiotherapy
- Individuals whom refuse the treatment, are very anxious or have needle phobias
Each individual case requires careful examination and assessment prior to treatment,
so communication with your Physiotherapist is vital.