Trigger Point Dry Needling Overview
What is Dry Needling?
Dry needling is the use of a solid needle for deactivation and desensitization of a myofascial trigger point which should stimulate a healing response in that tissue and reduce the biomechanical stress of the muscle treated. Read More...
What is Myofascial Pain?
Myofascial pain syndrome is a disease of the muscle that produces local and referred pain. It is characterized by a motor abnormality (a taut or hard band within the muscle) and by sensory abnormalities (tenderness and referred pain). It is classified as a musculoskeletal pain syndrome that can be acute or chronic, regional or generalized. It can be a primary disorder causing local or regional pain syndromes, or a secondary disorder that occurs as a consequence of some other condition. When it becomes chronic, it tends to generalize, but it does not change to fibromyalgia. It is a treatable condition that can respond well to manual and injection techniques, but requires attention to postural, ergonomic, and structural factors, and toxic or metabolic factors that impair muscle function.
Gerwin, Robert D. "Classification, epidemiology, and natural history of myofascial pain syndrome.(Author abstract)(Report)." Current Pain and Headache Reports 5.5 (Oct 2001): 412(9). Academic OneFile. Gale. BCR Regis University. 27 Oct. 2008
What is a Trigger Point?
The term "trigger point" was coined in 1942 by Dr. Janet Travell to describe a clinical finding with the following characteristics:
To the patient
TDN is a treatment that uses fine filament (acupuncture) needles, but that is where the similarity to acupuncture stops. Acupuncture tends to be a more superficial treatment that focuses on restoring energy or "Qi" to the body. It is thought there are blockages that can be restored by properly placing needles along energy channels called meridians.
Wheras, TDN directly treats the neuromuscular system affecting muscle tightness, joint mobility, and symptoms of pain and irritation. Testing active trigger points with an EMG needle has shown that there is increased spontaneous electrical activity (SEA) at this active trigger point. It is kind of like buzzing or uncontrolled electricity causing the nerve muscle connection to trigger the muscle to be tight. This tightness can cause limited range of joint motion resulting in a reduction of normal functional activities of the whole body.
Recent research has reported that there are numerous inflammatory and pain producing chemicals at an active trigger point causing pain and dysfunction of the muscle, consequently affecting the local nerves and joints. The dry needle has been shown, when causing a local twitch response (LTR) in the active trigger point and muscle fiber, to decrease or completely reduce that spontaneous electrical activity and reduce or completely eliminate the irritating chemicals in that active trigger point. This release can immediately improve range of motion, decrease pain and improve function. Patients often feel a significant cramping sensation from the twitch response but then feel an immediate improvement of their symptoms.
Utilizing trigger point dry needing in manual therapy practice allows the patient and the therapist a hastened return to strengthening and exercise that results in a faster return to function and improved maintenance of that dysfunction.