What is Trigger Point Dry Needling?
Trigger point dry needling (TDN) is a treatment technique which
uses fine, filament-type needles to release tight muscles with
the goal of permanently reducing muscle pain and dysfunction.
Utilizing trigger point dry needing allows a faster return to
How Does Trigger Point Dry Needling Work?
Dry needling works to deactivate trigger points in the muscle,
desensitize associated structures, and restore function by:
– Decreasing spontaneous electrical activity
– Releasing muscle shortening
– Removing the source of irritation
– Promoting healing
How Do Myofascial Trigger Points Develop?
Trigger points develop in the muscle as a result of various stresses, such as: postural, repetitive motion, hormones, psychological, and/or emotional stresses. Trigger points are more likely to develop in tissue whose associated nerves are compromised by factors such as mechanical compression of the nerve, disc dysfunction, facet joint dysfunction, vascular compression, metabolic stress, biomechanical stress, postural stress, etc.
Why Do We Want to Deactivate Trigger Points?
When muscles develop trigger points, they remain tight, causing the compression of blood vessels, nerves and joint structures in that area. This can affect the normal function of that tissue, and possibly even affect other tissues that the involved nerve communicates with.
What Does It Feel Like?
People experience differing sensations with TDN. Most people only feel minimal discomfort as the needles are inserted. Patients often feel a significant cramping sensation from the twitch response, but then feel an immediate improvement in their symptoms.
Is There Research to Support the Use of TDN?
Research has shown that there is increased spontaneous electrical activity at the site of an active trigger point. This electrical activity is kind of like “buzzing”, which causes the nerve-muscle connection to trigger the muscle to be tight. Dry needling has been shown to decrease or completely eliminate this spontaneous electrical activity by eliciting a twitch response in the muscle, which “resets” its electrical conduction system.
In addition, new research has reported that dry needling can also reduce levels of inflammatory and pain-producing chemicals that are found at an active trigger point, ultimately reducing pain and dysfunction of the muscle, as well of the nerves and joints in its vicinity. This release can immediately improve range of motion, decrease pain and improve function.
How is TDN Different from Acupuncture?
TDN is a treatment that uses acupuncture needles, but that is where the similarity to acupuncture ends.
Acupuncture is a more superficial treatment that is based on the Traditional Chinese Medicine focus of restoring energy or “Qi” to the body. It is thought that there are blockages that can be opened by properly placing needles along energy channels called meridians.
Trigger Point Dry Needling directly treats the neuromuscular system affecting muscle tightness, joint mobility, and symptoms of pain and irritation. It is thought that if you adequately release the muscle, the tissues are then allowed to assume normal function with improved neurological conduction and blood flow.
Is There Any Special Advice to Follow After a TDN Treatment?
– Stay hydrated: drink lots of water
– Light physical activity only for the rest of the day (stretching is great!)
– Ice or heat may be applied following a treatment for patient comfort
– Muscle soreness is common and can be expected for 1-2 days following needling (it may feel like your muscles have done a workout)
– Contact your health care practitioner if you have any questions or concerns
Trigger Point Dry Needling
Our Trigger Point Dry Needling Providers
Roma Czop MSc PT
Kelsey Drew MSc PT Registered Physiotherapist