By Liam Neyland
What is Dry needling?
Dry needling is a form of treatment modality that many health professionals implement. It involves the use of a sterile “dry” single use needle being inserted into the skin and muscle. This particular technique is aimed toward myofascial trigger points that are found in muscles. These trigger points are normally found as hypersensitive and or palpable nodules. The overall goal of dry needling is to help reduce muscle pain and or spams, increase surrounding tissue range of motion and improve nerve conductivity.
How does it work?
The way that this treatment works can be quite complex in nature. In the most simple explanation when these trigger points are stimulated through the use of the needle, a ‘twitch’ like response is produced in the muscle fibres. This stimulation creates a local influx of blood products such as red blood cells to the affected area. This influx is part of the natural inflammation process which in turn helps stabilise and strengthen surrounding connective tissue. During this process the nerve that innervates the target muscle is also stimulated resulting in nerve fibers releasing specific chemicals that interrupt pain signals which in turn causes muscle depolarisation and relaxation from previously tightened states.
What can it be used to treat?
Dry needling can be used to treat a multitude of conditions. Ranging from but not limited to tendinitis, headaches, general muscle aches/pains and acute soft tissue injuries. Dry needling will only be a small portion of the treatment consultation as your osteopath will utilise a number of other treatment techniques to best maximise the healing time frame. During treatment of certain conditions having dry needling can be sore during or post but this is normally a case to case basis with most patient’s not feeling any pain or discomfort due to how thin the needle is
Is it the same as acupuncture?
Dry needling and acupuncture have lot’s of similarities between the two. With both inserting needles into specific parts of the body. However, dry needling is used in a more localised fashion where the muscle or region is being treated not the entire body.
What Would I expect During treatment?
During a usual treatment session you will be placed in a comfortable position dependent on what area is being targeted whether it be seated or lying down on either your stomach or back. Once settled a needle will be gently inserted into the trigger point, once in depending on the expected outcome the needle will either be dynamically utilised (moving needle) or statically utilised (stays still). The needles will only be inserted for 30 seconds to 7 minutes depending on a variety of factors.
If you believe that dry needling may be beneficial for you or if you have any questions regarding the procedure, the staff at HMC Osteopath’s are more then happy to answer any questions you may have.
Dry needling: a literature review with implications for clinical practice guidelines - PMC (nih.gov) Dry needling - Physiopedia (physio-pedia.com) The effectiveness of superficial versus deep dry needling or acupuncture for reducing pain and disability in individuals with spine-related painful conditions: a systematic review with meta-analysis - PMC (nih.gov)
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