Trigger Point Dry Needling is a manual technique to eliminate trigger points from muscles. Trigger points cause pain, numbness, weakness and symptoms like headaches. It is the best way to de-activate trigger points and is often more permanent than other manual trigger point therapies.
WHY IS IT CALLED DRY NEEDLING?
It is called dry needling because it is derived from an older technique called trigger point injections. These injections were “wet” meaning that they injected a liquid substance. Dry needling uses a solid filament needling and does not inject anything and so is called “dry”.
WHAT IS IT?
A very fine solid filament needling is inserted into the muscle. Prior to insertion the trigger point is located by palpating the muscle. Often patients don’t feel the needle insertion at all. Once the needle goes into the trigger point, the muscle “twitches” which feels like a very quick muscle contraction. There can be a cramping feeling that accompanies the twitch. Often trigger points are clustered together so many twitches can be provoked in a a small area. Although the twitch is often not comfortable, it is a sign that that trigger point has been eliminated. It is an important part of dry needling.
HOW DOES IT DIFFER FROM A TRIGGER POINT INJECTION?
Decades ago it was discovered that trigger points could be eliminated by doing injections. Over time, it was realized that it didn’t matter what substance was injected (local anesthetic, saline solution or botox). The therapeutic part of the injection was the twitch response. Trigger point injections are still done and do work if the practitioner is skilled at palpating the trigger points, getting a twitch response and identifying referred pain patterns. The downside of TP injections is that hypodermic needles are much bigger than solid filament needles and therefore disrupt the tissue more and cause more bleeding. Less trigger points can be treated at a time. The local anesthetic that is used does numb the area for 1-2 hours but after that post treatment soreness is similar to the dry needling.