Dry needling is a technique we use to treat muscle tension and pain. It focuses on reducing pain and restoring muscle function by releasing trigger points (knots) in your muscle that often can't be released through massage. Many people confuse dry needling and acupuncture, however the purpose of each treatment is quite different. We explain what the purpose of each treatment is below.
What is the difference between Acupuncture and Dry needling?
Where Dry Needling focuses on reducing pain and restoring muscle function by releasing trigger points in the muscle, Acupuncture works on restoring the flow of energy through key points in the body.
A myofascial trigger point is defined as “a hyper irritable spot in skeletal muscle that is associated with a hypersensitive palpable nodule in a taut band” (Dommerholt 2006). This means a trigger point is a section of the muscle that is overactive and usually sore to touch. These trigger points are very common in areas where we hold tension, for example the base of our skull, top of our shoulders or lower back. Sometimes these trigger points can cause pain in other areas of your body. You'd often be surprised that the pain you're feeling is stemming from a different part of the body which can be released through dry needling.
What to expect from your treatment?
The needle’s used in your treatment are 0.25-0.3mm wide – smaller than a sewing needle. The needle is inserted deep into the muscle which causes a local twitch response where you will feel the muscle contract then relax. This can initially feel uncomfortable and sometimes sharp however this is a sign that the treatment is working. Following this, the muscle can feel sore to touch and generally heavy for up to 48 hours.
To decrease the post treatment soreness, your physiotherapist will usually recommend rest, regular heat and some gentle stretching.
When is Dry Needling commonly used?
At AFIA Physio, we specialise in Dry Needling and find it to be very effective in many circumstances. It is commonly used to relieve pain for people who suffer from these issues:
- Sporting injuries - when a person is suffering from acute muscle issues.
- Calf tightness or strains.
- Lower back and neck pain.
- Sciatic pain.
- Headache and migraine treatment.
Want To Relieve Your Pain?
Dommerholt, J., Bron, C. & Franssen, J (2006). Myofascial Trigger Points: An Evidence-Informed Review. The Journal of Manual and Manipulative Therapy. 14(4) 203-221. Retrieved from http://www.maneyonline.com/doi/abs/10.1179/106698106790819991