Dry needling is one of the physiotherapy techniques we have been using for several years. It is also one of the tools used in rehabilitation and treatment of myofascial pain syndrome (MPS).
Dry needling is a solution for hypersensitivity in certain areas, which is the result of excess tension in skeletal muscle bands; when these bands are being compressed or stretched - or when the tissues are excessively contracted - painful sensations may occur.
One of the characteristics of such acute pain is that is usually occurs in an area rather far from the perceived source of pain.
Before the treatment itself, we conduct a thorough medical interview of the issues. The therapist also performs a palpation to accurately determine the true cause of the pain. It's done very often for athletes and people with similar symptoms.
Dry needling and acupuncture
Similarities and differences
Many patients associate dry needling with acupuncture, since both require needles, and there are some similarities. Nowadays, no fluids are injected during a dry needling procedure - so no injection needles, which cut painfully through the skin, are used.
During needling, only very thin needles are used - usually acupuncture needles - which make the procedure virtually painless. This is due to their diameter, structure, length and the material they are made of that allows them to slip under the skin.
Needle therapy is used to eliminate roots of pain that occur at so-called trigger points, located in the structures of tense muscle bands.
Trigger points in needle therapy
Trigger points in dry needling are completely different from meridians in acupuncture. The name of the treatment comes from the fact that no substances are injected during the insertion of the needles - which has been done in the past during injection needling.
The initial discovery was made by Karel Lewita in 1979, when he noted that the very insertion of a needle into a painful trigger point has an anesthetic effect, and causes the corresponding area of the body to heal faster. The healing effects, he noted, were far greater than those produced by the injected anesthetic or therapeutic agent.
Example indications for dry needling:
- Issues with internal organ functioning,
- Iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS),
- Increased range of motion of the shoulder ring (e.g., for triathletes using a narrow aerodynamic position of a Lemond-type handlebar),
- Inflammation of the medial epicondyle of the humerus (golfer's elbow, tennis elbow, driver's elbow, etc.),
- Neck, back, shoulder tension (overload or post-accidental pain),
- Tension headaches; migraines,
- Upper limb pains - relating to, for example, hand tingling or numbness;
- Lumbar and gluteal pains,
- Knee pain; degenerative pain,
- Pain in the anterior compartment of the tibia (shin splits).