What is Dry Needling ?
Dry needling is a treatment technique whereby a sterile, single-use, fine filament needle (acupuncture needle) is inserted into the muscle to decrease pain and improve function by releasing myofascial trigger points (knots in muscle).
What is the difference between dry needling and acupuncture?
The main difference between dry needling and acupuncture is the theory behind why the methods work. Dry needling is not the same as acupuncture, although there are similarities between the two techniques. Dry needling primarily focused on reducing pain and restoring function by releasing myofascial trigger points in the muscle. In comparison, acupuncture focuses on treating medical conditions by restoring the flow of energy (Qi) through critical 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 that have shortened when activated but have not lengthened back to a relaxed state after use. A myofascial trigger point develops a sensitive nodule in the muscle (Simons, Travell & Simons, 1999). In addition to this nodule, the remainder of the muscle also tightens to compensate (Simons et al., 1999; Simons, 2002). This hypersensitivity 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 cannot frequently move, obtain a fresh blood supply containing oxygen and nutrients, or flush out additional acidic chemicals (McPartland, 2004; Simons et al., 1999). A myofascial trigger point in a muscle can lead to discomfort with touch, movement and stretching, decreased joint motion, and even a temporary loss of coordination (Simons et al., 1999).
How Does Dry Needling Work?
Dry needling decreases local muscular pain and improves function by restoring a muscle’s natural ability to lengthen and shorten by releasing myofascial trigger points.