Myofascial trigger point dry needling (TrP-DN) is an invasive procedure in which an acupuncture needle is inserted into the muscle. It is directed at myofascial trigger points (MTrPs), which can be thought of as tiny cramped areas of muscle fibers that can produce localized pain and tension or project pain to other areas. Dry needling is used to break up these trigger points to eliminate the pain that they create. When the MTrPs are eliminated, the muscle can then be stretched and
circulation in and out of the area normalizes.
Dry needling is used by physical therapists around the world in countries including: Canada, Chile, Ireland, the Netherlands, South Africa, Spain, the United States and the United Kingdom.
History: Dry needling differs from traditional acupuncture in practice and history. While there may be some overlap with meridians found in traditional Chinese medicine, dry needling grew from Western research of muscle dysfunction and MTrPs. Treatment within Western medicine for these muscular problems was often injection of an anesthetic such as lidocaine. But in the 1970s, it was found that the same results could be attained without using any injection. Hence the name: ‘dry needling’. The needle inserted into the MTrP caused the effect. From there, treatment was improved by use of thinner monofilament needles rather than injection needles. Fascial mobilization and direct stretch of the treated muscles are part of this treatment.
Some pain syndromes associated with trigger points include: headache, radiating arm pain, low back pain, sciatica, plantar fascia pain, TMJ(jaw/fascial) pain, neck pain, etc. Dry needling is often an indispensable tool in resolving pain in these areas, but it should be used in concert with other forms of manual treatment within a broad treatment plan to be truly effective.