What is Trigger Point Dry Needling?

Trigger point dry needling (TDN) is a technique that involves inserting thin acupuncture needles into muscle knots to relieve muscle tension, pain and inflammation. It is a safe and effective treatment for many conditions, including tension headaches, neck pain, back pain, and sciatica. This technique restores normal nerve and muscle function after an injury or muscle strain

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. The muscles develop knots and bands known as trigger points.

Physiotherapist performing dry needling treatment
Trigger Point Dry Needling

Areas of trigger points can cause local pain and stiffness but can also refer pain and other sensations such as tingling and numbness to the arms, hands, legs and feet. In other words, if you develop muscle knots in your upper hip area for instance, you may also feel pain and discomfort shooting down a leg (sciatica). 

TDN is similar to trigger point injections, but without the need to inject any foreign medication into the muscle. This is why it’s called “dry needling” and has been shown to have a similar therapeutic effect and is much less painful. It is the needle and not the medication that provides immediate pain relief.

Most people experience little or no pain during a TDN treatment. Some people may feel a slight muscle twitch or ache when the needle is inserted. After the treatment, the area around the trigger point may be sore or tender for a few hours and then the patient feels a sense of muscle tension release and a marked decrease in pain.

Irritated nerves send a signal to the brain to protect the area around the damaged muscle. The way the body protects the damaged area is to have the muscles contract and immobilize the area. So not only are the muscle tissues damaged themselves, the constant inflammation and irritation causes them to continually tighten up and spasm. Muscles form trigger points. This is called the reflex arc. TDN reverses this reaction, promotes healing, and restores normal pain-free function.

Reflex Arc

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