Trigger Point Dry Needling (TDN)

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Following up on last month’s article on fun run preparation, this month we are exploring a common treatment tool we use at Pinnacle Health Group in the treatment of a variety of muscular conditions – Dry Needling.

What is Dry Needling?

Trigger point dry needling is a treatment technique which uses small filament type needles to release tight muscles, permanently reducing muscle pain and dysfunction. This treatment can deactivate and desensitise myofascial trigger points, which should stimulate a healing response in that tissue and help normalise muscle tone.

Manual Therapists around the world are now using this technique effectively treat acute and chronic orthopaedic and musculoskeletal conditions. TDN can be an extremely fast and effective way of treating muscular trigger points.

What is a Trigger Point?

The term “trigger point” was a term coined to describe a clinical finding with the following characteristics:

  • Pain related to a localised, irritable point in skeletal muscle or fascia, which was not caused by acute local trauma.
  • The painful point can be felt as a lump or band in the muscle
  • A twitch response can be elicited on stimulation of the trigger point.
  • Palpation of the trigger point reproduces the patient’s complaint of pain, and the pain radiates (referred pain).

Trigger Points are a treatable condition that can respond well to manual and injection techniques, but also requires attention to postural, ergonomic, and structural factors, and toxic or metabolic factors that can effect muscle function

What causes trigger points?

Trigger points can develop as a result of various stresses on the muscular system including:

  • Poor posture (causing excessive loading of various muscles)
  • Repetitive use or overuse of muscles
  • Emotional and psychological stress

Biochemicals & Electrical activity in muscles with trigger points
Scientific studies have shown that patients with active Trigger Points show signs of irregular electrical activity at the trigger point site. This electrical activity causes the muscle to fire when it should not be, which can lead to a trigger point developing or worsening.

Studies have also shown an increased presence of chemicals associated with pain and inflammation in the area of the trigger point.

Trigger point dry needling

TDN is a treatment that uses fine filament (acupuncture) needles, which are used to target the tight bands (trigger points) of that muscle. The therapists deliberately produces a ‘twitch’ of the muscle, which is the desired response. It is a fast and effective way of treating muscular issues.

Dry Needling has been shown to:

  • Decrease or completely reduce that spontaneous electrical activity
  • Reduce or completely eliminate the irritating chemicals in that active trigger point.
  • Immediately decrease pain
  • Immediately improve movement and function

What to expect after Dry Needling Treatment

  • Patients often feel a significant cramping sensation from the twitch response but then feel an immediate improvement of their symptoms.
  • You may experience some mild treatment tenderness for a day or so following treatment (similar to a massage)
  • Your therapist will give you tailored advice on what to do after treatment & self management strategies.
  • Once your symptoms are settled, your therapist will work with you to help ensure they do not return.
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