November 23, 2022

Dry needling is a procedure used mainly to treat and heal muscle pain. In this technique, a ‘dry’ needle; the one without any injection or medication, is inserted directly into the muscle or skin. This procedure is also known as trigger point dry needling because a specific muscle is triggered at deep tissue or superficial level to relieve pain. Dry needling is mainly done by acupuncturists, physiotherapists, or medical doctors.

Sometimes, a muscle in our body develops a knotted area that causes pain. Those areas are known as myofascial trigger points. These trigger points of a muscle are super sensitive and touching them can be painful. These painful areas can be healed using the dry needling technique. A thin needle (without any medication) is inserted into to trigger point of the muscle to stimulate the tissue and relieve any pain.

It is said that dry needling alters the way a muscle and brain talk to each other. When a needle is inserted into the muscle, it may twitch, ache or be sore. All of these responses are considered to be normal and a sign that the muscle is healing.

Triggering the right Muscles

In order to find out the trigger point of a patient and to heal muscle pain, the clinician palpates the entire area using his hands. This helps him to identify which part of the muscle is causing pain and needs to be treated. Once the trigger point is found, a thin, dry needle is inserted directly into the skin. Sometimes, the clinician moves the needle a bit to induce a muscle spasm. In case a muscle reacts to the needle, it is a good sign meaning the muscle is responding to the technique of dry needling. Muscle soreness for a day or two after the treatment is normal and nothing to worry about.

Mode of Action of Dry Needling for Muscle Healing

Dry Needling has been used for treating various sorts of muscle pain for decades. It is one of the most popular medicine-free ways of healing pain. There are various ways in which dry needling works. Some of them include:

  • Altering the blood flow – Sometimes a contraction in the muscle may result in ischemia or hypoxia in that specific area of the body. This means that the levels of oxygen in that muscle decrease, resulting in soreness and pain. Dry needling on that area causes dilation of small blood vessels and increases the blood flow and oxygen. This helps in relieving muscle pain.
  • Blocks pain receptors – The process of dry needling induces the release of neurotransmitters like endorphins, dynorphins, and enkephalin. All these neurotransmitters are natural painkillers, which block the transmission of pain receptors from the brain and spinal cord, resulting in minimizing the pain effect.
  • Muscle Regeneration – When a needle pricks the muscle, it results in a focal traumatic lesion. This lesion activates the process of tissue healing by beginning the migration of the cells toward the affected area, it activates the replacement and repair of muscle fiber and regenerates the muscle
  • Inducing a twitch response – A twitch response is an involuntary spinal reflex that can be induced through the process of dry needling. This response can lead to changes in the tension and length of the muscle and can heal any pain inside it.
  • Causing neurophysiological effect – Through dry needling, our central nervous system can produce a local neurophysiological effect at the site of the trigger, which can reduce sensitization of muscle pain.

Reasons to Get Dry Needling Done for your Muscles

There are a lot of benefits to getting dry needling done for your muscles, these include:

  • Relieving soreness – Dry needling can be done to relieve your chronic musculoskeletal pain.
  • Getting rid of Muscle Tightness – Tightness of the muscle can be reduced through dry needling.
  • Restoring muscle functions – Dry needling is very beneficial for players and athletes, as their muscles may become tense because of overuse. This results in producing proper motion range and mobility in the muscle.
  • Improves injury recovery – As dry needling causes vasodilation, the affected area receives a high level of nutrients and blood flow which increases muscle recovery and lowers pain.
  •  Cost-effective and efficient – The entire process of dry needling doesn’t take much time. People can resume their normal daily routine right after the procedure. This process has become famous as it is not very costly so people can afford it easily. Dry needling is basically a minimally invasive technique as compared to other surgical methods and has a low risk of complications.

Conditions that can be Treated by Dry Needling Technique

Dry needling can be used to treat pain in any part of your body. Various health practitioners recommend this procedure for:

  • Knee pain
  • Hip pain
  • Chronic muscle injury
  • Low back pain
  • Sciatica
  • Muscle spasm or muscle pain

Who can Get Dry Needling Done

Anyone with acute or chronic muscle pain can undergo dry needling. Even though it is quite safe, still it is recommended that the person seeks advice from their doctor before getting this procedure done.

Duration of Dry Needling

For some patients, only one session of dry needling is enough but for others, it may take more depending upon the condition of their muscles. Mostly, the duration of dry needling is determined by the type of pain and muscle which is being treated. The whole procedure can be as short as a few seconds and can be longer which means it could be up to 10-15 minutes.

Although there are no major side effects of dry needling, a patient may experience some soreness, fatigue, or bruising right after the treatment which would go away on its own after some time. Dry needling is a very safe procedure, the only risk can happen in case a needle is injected improperly, which may result in a major organ puncture, so it is highly recommended that the patient should only get dry needling done by a well-trained and professional physiotherapist.

The Osteopathic Health Centre offers world class physiotherapy with a large team of physios specialising in different areas including Dry Needling. Our goal is to help boost the quality of your life and get you back to the condition you were in before the injury or illness.

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