Trigger Point Dry-Needling (TDN) – Westminster, Broomfield, CO

What is TDN?

This technique involves the insertion of acupuncture needles into tight muscle tissue. It decreases muscle spasms, pain as well as inflammation. Performing TDN restores normal nerve and muscle function after an acute injury or prolonged strain to muscles. Tiny needles are inserted into the area of the muscle which is most supersensitive. TDN is somewhat like trigger point injections, but without the need to inject any foreign medication into the muscle and has been shown to have a similar therapeutic effect. It is the mechanical stimulation of the needle and not the medication that produces the effect.

What kind of conditions can TDN help?

Trigger Point Dry Needling Westminster CO

TDN can help any condition where muscles are injured or have spasms and knots. The most common conditions that respond well are: Tension Headaches, Whiplash, Neck Pain and Low back Pain, Sciatic Pain (leg pain) Repetitive Strain Injuries, Tennis Elbow, Hip Pain, Acute injuries from falls, Postural Muscle Strain, Frozen Shoulder, Fibromyalgia, IT band pain (iliotibial band), and others…

Frequently, patients in an automobile accident will suffer whiplash injuires contributing to neck pain and headaches which come from severe muscle spasms that are very sensitive to touch. Trigger Point Dry Needling can be performed without additional pain and TDN can immediately provide relief for symptoms related to car accidents.

Dr. Peter Ray is a specialist in treating automobile injuries in Westminster Colorado and is one of the rare Chiropractors and Acupuncturists with several automobile treatment certifications.

What are trigger points?

Nerves and muscles work together to help your body move and function normally. When nerves become irritated or damaged either by trauma or chronic compression, the muscles can become weak and painful. This condition is known as neuromyofascial pain. In this condition, the muscles develop knots and bands known as trigger points  and motor bands. These areas can cause pain and other sensations such as tingling and numbness to be experienced in distant sites, such as the arms, hands, legs and feet. Trigger points (TrPs) are muscles knots that feel like lumps and are very sensitive to pressure. Trigger points often become self perpetuating once they have taken hold. Releasing trigger points typically requires active treatment. A spasmed muscle becomes a damaged muscle. Spasm reduces blood flow in the muscle. This means less oxygen and food to the muscle. Muscle fibers die off and get replaced by fibrous scar tissue. This in turn holds the muscle tight, prevents muscle metabolites from leaving the muscle and causes continued spasm and pain. Trigger points are commonly seen in both acute and chronic pain conditions and commonly misdiagnosed in chronic pain patients.

Dr. Janet Travell, MD and Dr. David G. Simons, MD defined a trigger point as a “hyperirritable spot in a skeletal muscle” in their book “Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction. The Trigger Point Manual.”  When John F. Kennedy won the Presidential race in 1960, he appointed her as his personal physician. Kennedy suffered from terrible low back pain resulting from invasive back surgeries related to injuries sustained during World War II. TrPs can entrap the nerves, blood, and lymph vessels, causing a variety of symptoms that confuse doctors and patients alike. Each specific trigger point on the body has a referred pain pattern. For instance, you may complain of leg pain much like sciatica, but the actual problem may be tight muscle knots in your lower back and hips referring down the leg. In this case, it is not your sciatic nerve that is being pinched, but trigger points causing that pain to shoot down your leg.

Trigger Point Dry Needling Broomfield CO

How do these trigger points start and why do they cause long-term pain?

Pain Reflex Arc

An injury or strain to the muscle occurs and causes pain to develop which will stimulate the spinal cord. These pain signals get transmitted to the brain and cause your muscles to spasm. The muscles cause another feedback loop to the brain and increase the response back to the muscle again, increasing the muscle spasms. This will cause pain to continue instead of fade. It’s called a Reflex Arc. In some cases the reflex arc continues for years, even decades. In this situation the original pain causes a self-sustaining cycle of pain.

How does Dry Needling stop this cycle?

Dry needling introduces a new stimulus (i.e. the acupuncture needle) that stops the reflex arc and has the effect of relaxing the muscle and decreasing pain. The mechanical stimulation of the muscle knot from dry needling also results in strong pain inhibition by opioids being released.  Opioids are naturally occurring pain killers in our body, like endorphins for instance. The stimulation of A-Delta receptors causes this pain relief. A-Delta receptors are nerve endings that transmit and block pain signals to the brain.

What does Dry Needling feel like?

When the acupuncture needle is inserted into the muscle knot, the sensation is often described as a tingling or dull ache. Needles are inserted either for a few seconds or may be left in place a little longer, depending on the effect required. Most patients do not feel the insertion of the needle. During treatment, patients commonly experience a pleasant feeling or relaxation following a “twitch response”. Some patients describe this as a little electrical shock; others feel it more like a cramping sensation. It only lasts for seconds. The treated muscles will feel fatigued and the soreness can last from a few hours to up to 1-2 days. The soreness is like you would feel after doing too much activity. Treatments sessions are usually spaced 4-5 days apart and you should expect to feel a marked difference after only 1-2 sessions. TDN provides excellent long-term relief and will get you back into your activities in no time.

Are there any side effects?

There is very little chance of side effects and a great potential for pain relief. This is the beauty of dry needling! At times bruising can occur and deep achy pain may last for hours.