Dry Needling is a treatment technique whereby a sterile, single-use, fine filament needle (acupuncture needle) is inserted into the muscle to assist with decreasing pain and improving function through the release of myofascial trigger points (knots in the muscle).
What is the Difference Between Dry Needling and Acupuncture?
Dry Needling is not the same as acupuncture, although there are similarities between the two techniques. The main difference between Dry Needling and acupuncture is the theory behind why the methods work. Dry Needling focuses primarily on the reduction of pain and restoration of function through the release of myofascial trigger points in muscle. In comparison, acupuncture focuses on the treatment of medical conditions by restoring the flow of energy (Qi) through acupressure points in the body (meridians) to restore balance.
What is a Myofascial Trigger Point?
A myofascial trigger point, also known as a knot in the muscle, is a group of muscle fibres which have shortened when activated but have not been able to lengthen back to a relaxed state after use. A myofascial trigger point is characterized by the development of a tender nodule in the muscle (Simons, Travell & Simons, 1999). This occurs as the muscle fibres become so tight that they compress the capillaries and nerves that supply them (McPartland, 2004; Simons et al., 1999). As a result, the muscle is unable to move normally, obtain a fresh blood supply containing oxygen and nutrients, or flush out additional acidic chemicals (McPartland, 2004; Simons et al., 1999). In addition to this nodule, the remainder of the muscle also tightens to compensate (Simons et al., 1999; Simons, 2002). The presence of a myofascial trigger point in the muscle can lead to discomfort with touch, movement and stretching; to decreased movement at a joint; and even a temporary loss of coordination (Simons, et al., 1999).
How does Dry Needling Work?
Dry Needling assists with decreasing local muscular pain and improving function through the restoration of a muscle's ability to lengthen and shorten usually by releasing myofascial trigger points.
When a fine filament needle is inserted into the centre of a myofascial trigger point, blood pools around the needle triggering the contracted muscle fibres to relax by providing those fibres with fresh oxygen and nutrients, as well as by flushing away any additional acidic chemicals. This, in turn, leads to the decompression of the local blood and nerve supply.
When is it Appropriate to Use Dry Needling as a Form of Treatment?
Dry Needling can be used in treatment:
• to help release myofascial trigger points (muscle knots);
• to assist with pain management, and;
• to restore movement at a joint if inhibited by myofascial trigger points.
Is it safe?
Dry Needling is a very safe treatment. Holistic Balance uses the highest quality single-use sterile needles. The needles are very fine and bruising, or bleeding rarely occurs around the areas of the insertions.