The origin of “dry needling” is contributed to Janet Travell, M.D., and focuses on the reduction and elimination of trigger points. Trigger points (TrP) are local, palpable, hyperirritable myofascial (muscle) spots within tight muscles that cause a referral pattern to other areas of the body. Dry needling is the process of using thin needles, traditionally used for acupuncture, and inserting the needles into a trigger point to relieve a contracture within the myofascia. Trigger points consist of only a few muscle fibers with a decreased threshold to pain. Trigger points contract first before the rest of the muscle causing an imbalance within the muscle. This imbalance between muscle fibers can cause pain that is felt along a muscle and/or joint, in an area of the body other than where pressure is applied. When joints experience pain it can often be due to an imbalance between the musculature activity. The altered activity causes improper motion of a joint which leads to joint surface irritation, then inflammation, and finally pain.
Dry needling has also been found to be effective in reducing local inflammation. In a recent study, a biopsy was performed on inflamed tissue pre-needling and post-needling and found that there was an immediate reduction in inflammatory markers. Another study that followed the progression of subjects who received a corticosteroid injection for shoulder pain and those that received an injection without the steroid, found that both subject groups had similar outcomes, except the group without a steroid had better long term outcomes. These studies suggest that the needle itself may have an effect on tissue healing by improving circulation to the site of trauma and thereby reducing inflammation and promoting healing.
A classic response to treatment with dry needling is called a local twitch response (LTR). A LTR is when an involuntary reflex or twitch is elicited within the tight and adhered myofascial location. The process works by interrupting the improper communication at the motor end plates of your muscle(s) allowing the muscles and the brain to effectively relearn how to communicate. When the brain and muscles re-learn how to optimally communicate, joints can re-establish proper positioning and motion to alleviate pain.
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F.I.T. Muscle & Joint Clinic's doctors in Overland Park & Shawnee, Kansas and Lees Summit, Missouri are trained in dry needling to properly and effectively treat your conditions with the best possible outcome. Do not hesitate, contact us today for leading evidence-based assessments and treatments for your musculoskeletal pain and dysfunction.