Spontaneous Electrical Activity (SEA)
“Results: All subjects demonstrated objective signs of spontaneous electrical activity, spike activity and local twitch responses at the myofascial trigger point sites within taut bands. The frequency of these signs was significantly greater at myofascial trigger points than at control sites (P<0.05). “
Hong C-Z, Torigoe Y. Electrophysiological characteristics of localized twitch responses in responsive taut bands of rabbit skeletal muscle fibers. J Musculoskel Pain 1994;2(2): 17-43.
“We have confirmed that biochemicals associated with pain, inflammation, and intercellular signaling are elevated in the vicinity of active MTrP’s. Furthermore, subjects with active MTrP’s in the upper trapezius have elevated levels of these biochemicals in a remote, unaffected muscle, suggesting that these conditions are not limited to localized areas of active MTrP’s.”
Biochemicals Associated With Pain and Inflammation are Elevated in Sites Near to and Remote From Active Myofascial Trigger Points.(Author abstract)(Report).Jay P. Shah, Jerome V. Danoff, Mehul J. Desai, Sagar Parikh, Lynn Y. Nakamura, Terry M. Phillips and Lynn H. Gerber. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation 89.1 (Jan 2008): p16(8). Reading Level (Lexile): N/A.
Trigger point dry needling is a treatment that addresses dysfunction of the neuromuscular system.
Trigger points develop in the muscle secondary to various stresses, i.e. postural, repetitive motion, psychological, emotional etc and are more likely to develop in tissue that has neurological dysfunction likely caused by compression, disc dysfunction, facet joint dysfunction, vascular compression, metabolic stress, biomechanical stress, postural stress etc.
When muscles develop trigger points, they neurologically remain tight causing local compression of vascular, neurological and joint/biomechanical structures hampering the normal function of that tissue.
All tissues distal to the involved nerve will likely be involved. If you adequately release the muscle, the tissues then are allowed to assume normal function with improved neurological conduction and vascularity.
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.