What is it? Is it Acupuncture?
Trigger point dry needling (TPDN) is a treatment that uses fine filament (Acupuncture) needles, but that is where the similarity to acupuncture ends. 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. TPDN directly treats the neuromuscular system affecting muscle tightness, joint mobility, and symptoms of pain and irritation. We are able to do this by eliciting a ‘twitch response’ from a myofascial trigger point.
What is a trigger point?
A trigger point is a described as hyperirratable areas within muscles which are associated with palpable nodules in small bands of muscle fiber. To the patient, it feels like a knot in the muscle and when pressure is placed upon that area, you will feel pain in the same location or you will feel referred pain elsewhere.
Why/when would TPDN be used?
TPDN can be used in conjunction with other treatments or used solely for treatment when a trigger is found and is contributing to the patients pain. It is also very effective in reducing muscle dysfunction which often displays itself as cramps. It has to be noted that not all cramps are due to muscle dysfunction, and can often be caused by poor blood flow to a region although this would be assessed by your practitioner.
Does it hurt?
When TPDN is used, the practitioner is trying to elicit a ‘twitch response’. Patients will often feel a cramping sensation when a twitch response is elicited, but then feel an immediate improvement of their symptoms. There can be some slight discomfort following dry needling but will subside with rest. Applying a heat pack can also assist with the healing process.