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Dry Needling

'Dry Needling' Acupuncture Therapy at HTC

Pain Management via Acupuncture Technique

At HTC our Physiotherapists and Osteopaths provide Dry Needling as part of their therapy spectrum. This page provides essential information relating to its practice, its theory, and its application.

Currently, when correctly applied dry needling displays a healthy success rate in the treatment of a number of musculoskeletal conditions.

Recognised Benefits of Dry Needling

Promotes Blood Flow 

Trigger points cause tightness in muscles which can restrict blood flow and therefore oxygen delivery. This lack of oxygen can contribute to pain in the affected area. By using dry needling to deactivate trigger points in the muscle, we can reduce the barrier to blood flow and improve oxygenation.

Promotes Healing

By creating tiny injuries in a dysfunctional muscle with the use of a needle, the body responds with an inflammatory response in the area. This is a natural healing process that stimulates healing through collagen and protein formation and can help to restore a muscle’s normal function.

Reduces Pain

This can take many forms. In many cases, the deactivation of trigger points alone can reduce pain locally; however, by improving muscle extensibility can, in some cases, take the pressure off joints to reduce joint pain, or nerves to reduce radicular pain. Additionally, chemical changes within the muscle and associated nerves can block or influence the transmission of pain messages to the brain. 

Improves Muscle Extensibility and Contractibility

Once again, the deactivation of trigger points is mostly to thank here! By releasing taut bands found within muscle, muscle spasms can be decreased, and an increased range of motion can be achieved. Improved joint mechanics and using the “twitch response” to our advantage can allow for improved recruitment and activation of appropriate muscles.

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What happens during Dry Needling Therapy?

Your practitioner will work with you to identify the exact area affected by your condition.

  • The practitioner will always complete a full medical history and examination prior to applying Dry Needling techniques.
  • Examination identification of myofascial trigger points in the muscle through palpation.
  • Deep dry needling application should reproduce the patient’s pattern of pain
  • The minimum criteria for a diagnosis of myofascial trigger points are:

                     – Spot tenderness in a palpable band of skeletal muscle.

                    –  Subject recognition of pain with palpation.

                    –  Clinical presentation

What about recurring symptoms after treatment is completed?

Both during and after dry needling treatments your therapist will give advice and guidance on symptom expectation. It is not unusual to experience some low-level discomfort for a short period. They may also suggest/advise on appropriate exercises and daily activities to enhance recovery.

What exactly is it?

Trigger-point dry needling is an invasive procedure where a fine needle or acupuncture needle is inserted into the skin and muscleIt is aimed at myo (muscle)-fascial (tendon-like structures that divide or connect muscle structures) trigger points which are irritable symptom spots in skeletal muscle. The formation of trigger points is caused by the creation of a taut band within the muscle. Taut muscle bands are produced as a normal protective, physiological measure in the presence of actual or potential muscle damage. They are thought to occur in response to unaccustomed muscle activities such as sustained postures/positions or repetitive strain activities. Trigger point dry needling can be carried out at superficial or deep tissue level(s).

Superficial Dry-Needling: This was developed by Dr. Peter Baldry. He recommended the insertion of needles 5-10mm in length over a Trigger Point for approximately 30 secs. Palpation of the Trigger Point then determines the level of response and whether needle stimulation was sufficient to alleviate the related pain. If not, the needle is re-inserted.

Trigger Points

These are thought to be caused by an excessive release of chemicals from selected nerve endings within muscle tissue. They can be divided into Active or Latent myofascial trigger points. 

Active trigger points can spontaneously trigger local or referred pain. They cause muscle weakness, restricted range of movement, and autonomic phenomena (reactions such as increased sweating or skin temperature/colour changes). 

Latent trigger points do not cause pain unless they are stimulated. They may alter muscle activation patterns and contribute to restricted range of movement. Therefore, both active and latent trigger points cause allodynia (unusual oversensitivity i.e. pain on just light touch) at the trigger point site and hyperalgesia (excessive pain reaction e.g. during movement) away from the trigger point following applied pressure. Dry needling of these myofascial trigger points via mechanical (needle) stimulation causes an analgesic (pain-relieving) effect.