Trigger Point Dry Needling is a highly skilled specific treatment technique used on muscular trigger points that can create or contribute to pain and dysfunction. A trigger point is a sensitive knot in a muscle — the muscle is typically tight or guarded to the point where blood flow can slow, waste products accumulate and the muscle does not function normally.
A muscle trigger point is a highly localized, hyper-irritable spot in a palpable, taut band of skeletal muscle fibers. Located throughout the body, trigger points have been shown to be the primary source of pain in as many as 85 percent of pain-related visits to primary care doctors.
They develop for a variety of reasons, including referred or local pain, inflammation, and tissue injury.
“ Dry needling is a very effective treatment that can help with reducing pain and allowing many patients to get moving earlier. We've seen patients demonstrate remarkable improvements when used as part of a comprehensive treatment program.” - Craig O'Neil, Chief Clinical Officer, Results Physiotherapy
When the muscle is stimulated with the needle, a twitch or rapid depolarization of the fibers takes place. This removes the compression on the joint, nerve, or vascular tissue. As a result, the muscle activity reduces dramatically, allowing it to relax and the pain and dysfunction to decrease.
Occasionally, when the needle is inserted a patient will feel “referred pain.” This is usually a positive sign confirming the trigger point as the cause of the patient’s pain.
Dry needling is a great option for those patients who are looking to increase their range of motion which may be limited by tight muscles.
There are a number of theories that believe Dry Needling also stimulates the release of the body’s endogenous opiates, initiating a new healing process.
All of our therapists have an extensive knowledge of anatomy and physiology. It is a requirement that our therapists go through rigorous additional training and testing before implementing TDN. Our industry-leading training on manual therapy and exercise science provides a strong foundation to dry needling training, ensuring that patients receive safe and world-class care.
Dry Needling must be administered by a highly skilled therapist with advanced training in anatomy and musculoskeletal function and dysfunction. So only our most experienced manual physical therapists are selected to receive training in this technique. You can find these trained therapists at the majority of our clinics.
Have a question that we didn't answer? Check out our Dry Needling Frequently Asked Questions!
Because of the unique demand their workouts put on their body, performance athletes commonly suffer from deep muscle spasms. Long-distance runners, cyclists, and other endurance athletes often suffer from stubborn muscular tension that is difficult to quickly resolve with manual therapy, massage, or stretching. Those that are just starting out on an exercise program or trying to increase their activity levels very often develop very similar issues.
"I have a bulging disk in my back, which has flared up occasionally over the past 10 years. ... I was in terrible pain, but I didn’t want to take any strong pain pills or narcotics, so I asked the doctor what I could do to manage the pain until December? He suggested physical therapy. ... But the doctor said that he had some other patients who had tried a new treatment called “dry needling”, which is administered by a physical therapist, so he suggested that I try dry needling, to see if it could give me some relief. I began my treatments at RESULTS Physical Therapy in October 2018, and through their efforts, my back pain is gone! I canceled my surgery -- and I have not even been back to the surgeon (or the pain management doctor) since that day in October 2018! My experience at RESULTS was different than any other PT clinic that I had ever used previously. Not only did the dry needling help me, but the therapists at RESULTS were very “hands-on”: at the beginning of every appointment there, the PT would do a hands-on examination of my back, hips, and shoulders, to see which muscles were out of balance, and to see if any of the pressure points or tension knots had returned, etc. This experience was so refreshingly different than any prior PT clinic that I had ever used in the past. Therefore, I enthusiastically give my absolute strongest recommendation for RESULTS Physical Therapy clinic. They are definitely the best PT clinic that I have ever experienced!"
Take a look at what one of our patients said about our Dry Needling Treatment!
No — those that have had both will describe very different experiences. While Dry Needling uses the same tool as acupuncture, the theory behind it is different. Acupuncture follows Eastern Medicine’s key principles of holistic treatment and normalizing the body’s energy imbalance.
Dry Needling is based on Western Medicine’s scientific, tested practices to restore normal muscle function.
|Medical diagnosis not relevant||Medical diagnosis is necessary|
|Medical examination not applicable||Medical examination imperative|
|Needle placement according to Traditional Chinese Medicine philosophy into non-scientific meridians||Needle insertion based on musculoskeletal trigger points|
|Knowledge of anatomy not applicable||Knowledge of anatomy essential|
|No immediate objective change anticipated||Prompt subjective and objective signs and symptoms change|
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.