What is Dry Needling?
Dry Needling is a specific treatment technique that uses a solid filament needle to treat muscle trigger points which are creating pain and discomfort. A muscle trigger point is a highly localized, hyper-irritable spot in a palpable, taut band of skeletal muscle fibers. These muscle trigger points - which are located throughout the human body - play a role in producing and sustaining feelings of pain and discomfort. Trigger points develop in muscle for various reasons including referred or local pain, inflammation, tissue injury or other causes. Studies from the United States have shown that trigger points were the primary source of pain in as many as 85% of pain-related appointments with a primary care doctor.
How Dry Needling works
The mechanical stimulation of the muscle produces a local twitch or rapid depolarization of muscle fibers. After this process the muscle activity dramatically reduces resulting in relaxation and decrease in pain and dysfunction. This decrease in pain is related to the removal of muscular compression on joint, nerve and vascular tissue. Occasionally, insertion of the needle will also reproduce “referred pain” symptoms. This is often a positive sign confirming the trigger point as being the cause of the pain. It is theorized that Dry Needling also stimulates release of endogenous opiods, and initiates a “new healing process”.
At Results Physiotherapy, Dry Needling is prescribed as part of an overall care plan
At Results, Dry Needling is a natural extension of quality hands on therapy. To be effective, Dry Needling should not be performed as an isolated treatment, but as part of a comprehensive care plan; it is another very specific tool to reduce pain and help patients to better tolerate their physical therapy and tailored exercise plan.
Successful Dry Needling must be administered by a highly skilled manual therapist, with advanced training in anatomy and musculoskeletal function and dysfunction. At Results Physiotherapy, only our most experienced manual physical therapists are selected and trained to perform Dry Needling therapy. Results has therapists trained to perform Dry Needling at the majority of its 100+ clinics.
Dry Needling vs. Acupuncture
While Dry Needling uses the same tool as acupuncture—it is with a different theoretical purpose. Dry Needling is based on traditional, studied and tested practices of Western Medicine to restore normal muscle function. Traditional acupuncture practitioners follow Eastern Medicine's key principle of holistic treatment, and is based on normalizing the energy imbalance, or Chi, in the body to cure syndromes.
Further, the amount of formal training received by a Results therapist is extensive. A Results therapist has undergone thousands of hours of training, successfully passed regulated board exams, and has a thorough knowledge of a patient's condition.
Dry Needling vs. Trigger Point Injection
Unlike Trigger Point Injection, Dry Needling does not deliver any medications. Therefore, the treatments can be done more frequently with no adverse side effects.
Traditional trigger point injections use a hollow, hypodermic needle to inject substances such as saline, Botox or corticosteroids. When the two treatments are compared, the literature reports numerous randomized clinical trials and one systematic review, where no difference was found between injections of different substances and dry needling in the treatment of muscle trigger point symptoms. The theory suggests that the “needling effect” is the most important part of the process rather than the chemicals injected. This does not mean that certain patients will not have greater indications or benefits with injections rather than Dry Needling and vice-versa.