Dry needling, also known as trigger point needling, is a specific technique that targets the trigger points within muscles. Trigger points are hyperirritable spots in a muscle that are extremely sensitive, making them painful to touch. In addition to contributing to local pain, they can also refer pain to other areas of the body. If unfamiliar with how muscles can refer pain it can make an accurate diagnosis, and therefore treatment, more challenging.
Trigger points can also have an impact onthe quality of movement, range of motion, and even strength. They can even affect mobility of the joints and mimic pain of other musculoskeletal conditions.
In dry needling, the therapist inserts thinsolid filament needles into the skin to releasethe underlying trigger points. The needles also stimulate the connective tissues and muscles that are more difficult to manipulate manually. These needles are typically manipulated within the tissue several times before being removed. Occasionally they can be left in place for a brief time to help release the tissue. During the process, twitching of the muscles may be experienced which indicates that the needle has gotten to the trigger point. Familiar local or referred pain may also be experienced, indicating that the muscle being treated is also a contributing factor to the current pain complaint.
Why Should You Opt For Dry Needling?
Dry needling is typically used by physical therapists as part of a larger, ongoing treatment. They employ the technique to inactivate trigger points in order to relieve pain and improve range of motion. Medical research has shown that dry needling can help reduce muscle tension, improve pain control, and normalize dysfunctions of the sites at which muscles receive nerve impulses. In doing so, dry needling helps in speeding up the muscle rehabilitation process.
Dry needling is also great to utilize in areas that are harder to treat with manual therapy and soft tissue techniques because of depth. Frequently patients will show improvement with dry needling where these other treatments have not succeeded.
What Can Be Treated By Dry Needling?
Dry needling is used in combination with manual therapy, muscle strengthening exercises, or other modalities. It can be used for a number of diagnoses including, but not limited to:
- Repetitive straindisorders (like lateral epicondylitis)
- Migraine and headaches
- Joint problems
- Phantom limb pain
- Spinal pain conditions
- Pelvic pain
- Disk problems
- Night cramps
- Jaw disorders (for e.g.,TMD)
- Adhered scars
In doing so, dry needling helps in eliminating muscle tightness, breaking upscar tissue, improving flexibility, and increasing your range of motion and mobility.
Dr. Michelle Finnegan at ProMove PT Pain Specialists has beena Certified Myofascial Trigger Point Therapist (CMTPT), which is a specialty certification in dry needling, since 2009. She also teaches dry needling courses throughout the United States and has presented nationally and internationally on the topic of dry needling. She has treated many complex patients with dry needle physical therapy to alleviate their pain and discomfort to help improve their function.
Book an appointment with her now for dry needle treatment in Bethesda!