What is dry needling?
Trigger point dry needling is a technique where a thin acupuncture needle is inserted into a taut muscle to release any contracted fibres. Also called intramuscular manual therapy it can be utilised to treat inaccessible areas of pain or muscle tissue that are unresponsive to traditional massage and physiotherapy. It can be used to treat myofascial trigger points, dysfunctional soft tissue and muscle spasms.
How does it work?
Prolonged muscle contraction prevents blood flow, resulting in damage being caused to the tissues by the restricted supply of oxygen and nutrients. Damaged or dead muscle fibres become layered by fibrous scar tissue, holding the muscle tight, preventing metabolic waste from leaving the tissue. This can cause continued spasm and activate a cycle of pain. Motor neurons constantly repeat a feedback loop of pain and the reflex of pain can continue for even years.
Introducing the stimulus of inserting a filament needle into a spasmed muscle triggers the spinal cord to respond with a muscle twitch. This can impede the pain reflex, relax the muscle and is the first step to breaking a pain cycle. This stimulus also creates a biochemical response with the release of endogenous opioids. Opioid production primarily reduces pain by delivering morphine-like effects.
What conditions can it treat?
Dry needling can be effective in treating the following physical ailments:
- Low back tension/pain
- Neck pain
- Spinal dysfunction
- Joint dysfunction
- Tennis elbow
Who can benefit from dry needling?
Any person who suffers from musculoskeletal pain and dysfunction and chronic muscle tightness can benefit. It can work wonders to:
• Relieve pain and muscle tightness
• Speed up injury recovery
• Improve range of motion
What should I expect?
Dry needling usually supplements a sports massage treatment. Your practitioner may recommend needling to release certain taut muscles and may continue to massage another part of your body as the needling does it’s work. The needles are inserted into the muscle fibre and left for a period of minutes before being taken out and safely disposed of. You may experience any of the following during treatment: an increase in energy level, a feeling of relaxation, irritation at the site of needle insertion, dizziness, nausea or sweating. One client described it as “the most painful thing I have ever loved”.
Is there a difference between acupuncture and dry needling?
Acupuncture is a very specialised and completely different therapy that focuses on promoting health and improving symptoms by using needles to stimulate chi flow in the meridian lines of the body. The only similarity it shares with dry needling is the use of sterile disposable needles.
What are the side effects of dry needling?
It is important to consider that like other medical procedures there are possible complications to receiving dry needling. On occasion the pain can increase for one or two days followed by a sudden improvement in your symptom. Some clients report feeling drowsiness or fatigue following a treatment as their body requires energy to heal the soft tissue dysfunction and process metabolic waste. The most serious risk of treatment is pheumothorax, where a needle is inadvertently placed into the lung tissue creating a small hole in the lung. It is important to feel confident in your therapist and it would always be wise to ask them to explain everything to you in detail before agreeing to it.
To find out more and book a treatment, please call us on 020 8166 8958