What is all the FUSS about DRY NEEDLING?!
For those of you who haven't heard about Dry Needling, it is a tool that can be an adjunct to your treatment, performed by some Physiotherapists or other health care practitioners that is becoming more and more common!
Dry Needling is a highly effective treatment that involves inserting a monofilament needle, similar to those used in acupuncture, into the muscle in order to release a trigger point or help activate a muscle. There is nothing being injected into the muscle during the procedure, it is simply the needle going in to the muscle.
A Trigger Point is a tender spot found within a tight band of muscle. Most people can find these spots, often referred to as a "knot". Trigger points can refer pain to distant parts of the body. The goal of dry needling is to release the trigger point to relax the muscle and improve pain.
You may or may not feel the needle puncture the skin. The needle will then be inserted to a depth so that the target muscle is reached. When the needle hits the trigger point, there will be a twitch response as the muscle relaxes, therefore you will probably feel the muscle twitch. The needle is then moved slightly to locate any other trigger points nearby.
As you can see, the needle is inserted, and then moved slightly to find the nearby trigger points and to elicit a twitch response. You can also see the muscle twitch in the video.
You may feel a cramp or ache sensation while the needle is inserted. After the procedure, many individuals feel instant relief from their symptoms and increased range of motion. You may feel an aching sensation for up to 48 hrs.
Why is it beneficial?
- Decreasing Pain; pain from trigger points can be quite debilitating. It can cause pain in the muscle where the trigger point is located, and can also refer pain far from the location of the trigger point.
- Decrease Muscle Tension; trigger points cause tension through the muscles which give the sensation of tightness and discomfort.
- Increasing Range of Motion; tight muscles don't move as well as loose muscle. When the trigger point is released, the muscle can move much more freely and allow greater movement.
- Restore Function; tight muscles with trigger points can alter the blood flow and ability of the muscle to work properly. When the trigger point is released, the blood flow improves, which allows nutrients into the muscle and also clears out unwanted substances in the muscle.
Josh Kirkpatrick - 2018 Canadian Men's Olympic Bobsleigh Team
Cam Stones - 2018 Canadian Men's Olympic Bobsleigh Team
The needling can sometimes be a bit uncomfortable, however the discomfort during the procedure is a different kind of discomfort than the patient is used to feeling day to day. This makes the short term discomfort worth it, in order to have long term improvements.
Risks: The most serious risk is accidental puncture of a lung (pneumothorax). If this were to occur, it may likely require a chest x-ray and no further treatment. The symptoms of shortness of breath may last for several days to weeks. This is a rare complication, and in skilled hands it should not be a major concern. We avoid this risk by never directing a needle towards the lung. Other risks include injury to a blood vessel causing a bruise, infection, and/or nerve injury. Bruising is a common occurrence and should not be a concern.