Dry needling is a treatment that acts to augment the central nervous system. It is used by physiotherapists to primarily treat conditions that have a component where muscle trigger points are present.
Muscle trigger points are localised, tight bands of muscle fibres within a muscle. These trigger points can develop for a number of reasons including overactive or fatigued muscles. Muscle trigger points can contribute to the overall tightness of specific muscles or refer pain into particular areas due to their presence.
Dry needling is a technique derived from acupuncture but is purely based on trigger point therapy rather than the use of traditional acupuncture points. It is increasingly being used in the management of musculoskeletal and sports injuries.
Dry needling has two main methods in relieving pain. By inserting a needle into the tight band of muscle it acts to break the trigger point up and restore whole muscle length. Additionally, as the needle is inserted through the skin and muscle it creates a local inflammatory response that stimulates healing of painful structures.
If your physiotherapist at Malvern East Physiotherapy believes that you would benefit from dry needling, they will discuss the aims, benefits, potential side effects and technique with you prior to treatment to ensure that you fully understand the treatment rationale. Dry needling can then be used as a component of a treatment program combined with manual therapy and exercise to achieve beneficial long-term effects.
Common conditions that dry needling is effectively used for:
- Tennis elbow – developed as a result of repetitive strain involving overuse of the wrist exterior muscles
- Neck pain – developed as a result of poor posture or neck muscle tightness
- Painful shoulder conditions with a limitation of movement – frozen shoulder, sub-acronical impingement
- Help with flexibility