What is Dry Needling?
Dry needling is a technique where a sterile, single-use needle is inserted into the skin, penetrating the muscle and subcutaneous tissue. Dry Needling is primarily focused on the reduction of pain and restoration of function through the release of myofascial trigger points.
What are myofascial trigger points?
A myofascial trigger point is what we most commonly refer to as a ‘knot’, being a hyper-irritable area in a tight band of muscle. The presence of a myofascial trigger point in a muscle can lead to an uncomfortable dull ache or sharp pain with touch, movement and stretching. Myofascial trigger points primarily arise due to the following:
- Trauma, such as a direct injury or strain to the area
- A long period of immobilisation or reduced activity, i.e. an office worker sitting at a desk for an extended period of time
- Unaccustomed or increased load/activity
- Extremes in cold or warm temperature
How does Dry Needling work?
Dry Needling targets these tight areas of muscle tissue. While needling areas of muscle tightness does help to relieve muscle tension, the success behind dry needling is more based on the inhibitory mechanisms of the needle on brain and spinal cord. By inserting the needle into certain muscle fibres, it inhibits outgoing pain messages to the brain thus, reducing pain to the area.
What is the difference between dry needling and acupuncture?
The process of both are in fact very similar and often the terms are actually used interchangeably in the Western world. The technical difference lies in the origin and history of the words and the beliefs behind how the technique works. Acupuncture evolved thousands of years ago in China and was found and taught on the basis of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Under this belief acupuncture was performed to alter and restore energy or ‘Qi’ through the body. Needles were inserted at specific points along ‘meridians’ or certain pathway thoughts to be connected to particular organs, body parts or pains. The term dry needling on the other hand, arose in the late 1970’s and was based off a similar technique to acupuncture but was thought to target certain mechanisms in the brain and spinal cord, as well as myofascial trigger points, and other soft tissues to held induce pain relief and was based more on Western medicine beliefs and principles.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):
Will I bruise:
Whether you will bruise is dependent on each individual, some people are slightly more sensitive to needling and do and some do not. Either way it is nothing to be concerned about and it will fade in a few days like a normal bruise.
Does it hurt?
Most people liken the initial insertion of the needle to a ‘scratch’ sensation, whereas some people do not feel it. Any unpleasant sensation is very temporary and is often less painful than what people may think.
Can it be done anywhere?
Dry needling can be done in most areas of the body, the only areas that cannot be dry needled include the belly button, nipples, external genitalia and the scalp area of young infants.
How long do the needles stay in for?
This is dependent on the area and the practitioner. Typically, needles are left in for 1-3 minutes, sometimes this may be longer, but a few minutes is all that is needed for the needles to have an effect.
What do I need to wear?
Essentially you need to ensure that the area you are being treated for is able to be adequately and appropriately exposed. We often recommend shorts if you are being treated for your lower limb, or a singlet type shirt if you are being treated for the upper limb. As always if any clothing needs to be removed to allow access to certain areas to be treated, your physiotherapist will leave the room to allow you to do so and you will be covered with a towel to respect your modesty.
If you have any further questions or would like to book in an appointment, do not hesitate to contact our friendly team on 0416 411 191.