What is Trigger Point Dry Needling? – Effective Pain Relief
October 15, 2018

Trigger Point Dry Needling (TDN) is a physical therapy treatment technique that utilizes thin filament needles to make changes in myofascial trigger points.  Myofascial trigger points can contribute to pain and decreased muscles function.  TDN is an effective tool in the hands of a physical therapist who manages soft tissue injuries, disorders, or pain.  TDN utilizes very fine acupuncture needs to “shut down” painful areas in muscles.  This causes the muscles to briefly contract and then produce immediate and long lasting relaxation.  TDN is particularly effective when used as part of manual physical therapy treatment approach.

What TDN Can Do –

  • TDN is used only to augment evidence based therapy and does not replace it.  Often, TDN allows patients to more effectively perform their therapy exercises.
  • Resolve chronic issues, particularly in individuals who are dealing with chronic pain
  • Allows patients to perform daily tasks, attend work, and participate in normal activities without pain.
  • Initial responses are often seen immediately.

What to Expect-

During treatment patients may feel a cramping sensation, but then feel immediate improvement of their symptoms.

TDN can significantly decrease or completely reduce spontaneous electrical activity causing muscle dysfunction TDN has been shown to improve range of motion, decrease pain, and improve muscle function.

Common Conditions that Respond Well to TDN-

Upper Extremity Conditions:

  • Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Tennis Elbow
  • Golfers Elbow
  • Rotator Cuff Injuries

Lower Extremity Conditions:

  • Patellar Femoral Syndrome
  • Patellar Tendonitis
  • Hamstring Strain
  • Groin Strain
  • Shin Splints
  • Compartment Syndrome
  • Achilles Tendonitis

So how does a needle in a muscle cause pain to resolve quickly? There are a few theories on why this happens and I like to explain it in terms most of us understand:  Think of a trigger point like a glitch in your computer. Something isn’t working right and it’s causing other things to have issues as well. What fixes most computer problems? You got it- the restart!

Dry needling is like the restart for the musculoskeletal system. If we have a irritated trigger point and we put a needle in it, it resets. This reset occurs at the muscle with what’s called the wash out effect. This basically means that a needle in a muscle causes increased blood flow to the area. Increased blood flow causes increased oxygen/healthy blood to shunt to the area. Local inflammation/stagnant fluid gets “washed out” by this effect.

There has also been evidence to support the theory that dry needling has a strong effect on the nervous system. Basically, placing a needle in a trigger point causes local opioids (our bodies own natural painkillers) to be released. This also causes a positive pain relieving effect on the spinal cord. This means we can get a local and central pain relieving effect from this technique.

If you’ve been struggling with an injury or pain that’s stopping you from the activities you love, this might be a very effective treatment option for you.

You have a choice. You don’t have to wake up every morning and hope that this is the day your shoulder/back/neck or whatever areas stops hurting. It’s sad how many people are in pain daily. It stops them from playing with their kids, walking 18 holes in golf, staying in shape and living overall happier lives.

Schedule a Dry Needling visit today at the top of the web page with our “Schedule an Appointment” Button.  Mention this post and get $10 off your 1st TDN Treatment!

Created by Physical Therapists


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