Dry Needling

Dry Needling

Dry needling is a treatment that healthcare providers use for pain and movement issues associated with myofascial trigger points

Dry needling A technique used by physical therapists, physiotherapists, and other healthcare professionals to treat musculoskeletal pain and movement disorders involves inserting thin needles into the skin and muscles in specific areas of stimulation, which are tight muscle fibers that can cause pain and limited movement.

The goal of dry needling is to eliminate these stimuli to reduce pain and improve range of motion. The needles used in dry needles are very thin, similar to acupuncture needles, and penetrate the skin and muscles without penetrating the medicine or needle.

It is important to note that dry needling is not the same as acupuncture, which is a Chinese medical practice in which needles are inserted into specific areas along meridians to balance the body’s energy flow

Mechanisms of Action

Dry needling has been shown to immediately increase pressure pain threshold and ROM, decrease muscle tone, and decrease pain in patients with musculoskeletal condition. The suggested mechanisms of action include:

  • Local Twitch Response: Dry needling can elicit a ‘local twitch response’ which is an involuntary spinal reflex resulting in a localised contraction of the affected muscles that are being dry-needled. Local twitch response can lead to alteration in the length and tension of muscle fibres and stimulate mechanoreceptors like A Beta fibres
  • Effects on Blood Flow: Sustained contraction of taut muscle bands in trigger points might cause local ischemia and hypoxia. Dry needling causes vasodilation in the small blood vessels leading to increased muscle blood flow and oxygenation.
  • Neurophysiological effects: Dry needling can elicit local and central nervous responses, promoting homeostasis at the trigger point site and leading to a decrease in both central and peripheral sensitisation to pain.

Deep VS Superficial Dry Needling

Superficial dry needling involves inserting the needle up to 10 mm into the subcutaneous tissue, its benefits include ease of administration, decreased risk of significant tissue trauma, reduced risk of nerve and visceral injury and patient comfort. Deep dry needling involves the insertion of the needle beyond the subcutaneous tissue into the muscle to reach MTrPs

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