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Trigger Point Dry Needling

Trigger point dry needling is a highly effective therapy method for the treatment of myofascial trigger points. Janet Travell, MD and David Simons, MD were instrumental and are considered two of the founders in developing the evaluation and treatment of trigger points throughout the body. Combining the trigger point dry needling techniques with other manual and rehabilitative methods has shown to be very effective in the treatment of chronic pain and speeding up the recovery time.

What are trigger points?

Trigger points are hyperirritable contraction knots found in tight bands of muscles. These points are usually associated with muscle tightness and pain. Trigger points can affect the local area of pain but also can refer to other parts of the body which can all effect strength, flexibility, and coordination of muscles.

How does trigger point dry needling work?

Trigger point dry needling utilizes a very thin filament needle. The needle used is similar to an acupuncture needle but this treatment is not considered acupuncture and is based on Western physiologic approaches. The needle is inserted into the trigger point and a local twitch response is ideally elicited. This twitch response is an involuntary contraction of the muscle that allows the muscle to relax. Sometimes electrical stimulation is applied to the needle to elicit these twitches to help the muscle relax as well. Dry needling is thought to work by disrupting a reflex arc of contracted tissue as well as stimulating biochemical changes to allow improved blood flow and healing to the area.

What does it feel like?

The filament needle is very different than the hypodermic needle you would see at a doctor's office. A filament needle is very thin, solid, and flexible vs. a hypodermic needle which is relatively thicker, hollow and has a blade tip. The filament pushes through the skin vs. cutting through the skin like a hypodermic needle would. The filament needles' properties lend themselves to a much more comfortable entry. After the dry needling treatment, immediate improvement can be noted. However, soreness is usually accompanied, which can last on average 1-2 days, followed by relief of symptoms.

What conditions can be treated?

  • Neck and mid-back pain
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Hamstring and lower back problems
  • Muscle tightness
  • Chronic pain syndrome
  • Sports injuries
  • Many other pain related symptoms that may not have resolved through traditional treatment methods

Trigger point dry needling requires highly specialized training and not all medical professionals are trained in the evaluation and treatment of trigger points. Carl Heldman, DPT has specialized training in this treatment. Trigger point dry needling can be very effective in treating pain of a myofascial origin. Dry needling has been the difference maker in many patients' conditions and we would urge one to consider this treatment as an option for the relief of pain.