Dry Needling has become a widely utilized treatment for muscular and fascial pain in recent years. Intramuscular Dry Needling is defined as the insertion of filiform (solid yet flexible) needles into trigger points/knots within the muscle belly to stimulate release of the firmly contracted tissue. It has long been proven to be an effective and efficient treatment to reduce pain, spasm, soft tissue restriction, and alleviate referred symptoms.
This form of intramuscular needling is commonly confused with acupuncture. The eastern medicine approach to acupuncture is based off of specifically mapped acupuncture points within the meridian system, a series of channels along which specific points are stimulated utilizing needles for both local and systemic benefits. Unlike acupuncture, dry needling is specifically geared towards utilization of needles to stimulate a twitch response, an instantaneous and brief contraction of the muscle which has been held in sustained contraction, to subsequently allow the muscle to release its chronic tightness and restriction.
Like any applicable treatment across all of medicine, assessment is key to understanding if and when a technique such as dry needling should be used. The keen understanding of anatomy and physiology, combined with progressive knowledge of proper movement of the body allows physical therapists to be ideal facilitators of dry needling. In order to fully comprehend whether or not to use a technique such as dry needling, tissue restriction through both fascia (connective tissue just under the skin) and muscle must be fully assessed to find local tightness and trigger points within the muscles.
Pro athletes, weekend warriors, and desk jockeys with crummy posture behind a computer can all benefit from the uses of dry needling. Releasing trigger points reduces tightness, restriction, and inflammation, allowing your muscles to create greater power and endurance while decreasing overall symptoms.