Dry needling is a very effective treatment option in the management of the myofascial pain syndrome, MPS. The hallmarks of the MPS are trigger points. A myofascial trigger point consists of multiple contraction knots, which are related to the production and maintenance of the pain cycle. Many patients describe trigger points often as a very uncomfortable and painful tightness and pulling sensation. Common areas are the neck, back and shoulder as well as the hip and the thigh.
The underlying cause of Myofascial pain is often overuse, stress at work and sports. The good news is that trigger points are treatable, even after years of irritation and pain. There is a worldwide consensus among specialists that the combination of manual trigger point therapy and dry needling are the most effective approaches in the treatment of trigger points.
Dry needling is an invasive procedure in which a sterile needle, often an acupuncture needle, is inserted into the skin and muscle directly at a myofascial trigger point. Proper dry needling of a trigger point will elicit a local twitch response. After the treatment the skin might be a little bit irritated. Very rarely there will be a small haematoma (bruise).
FAQ about Dry Needling
Is dry needling painful?
The insertion of the needle through the skin is usually not felt at all. It may sometimes cause a very brief burning sensation. It is normal that you may experience post treatment soreness for 1-2 days. You can support the healing process by taking a hot shower or a hot pack. For an optimal treatment result all muscles should be carefully stretched 2 or 3 times a day for 30 seconds as directed by your therapist.
Is dry needling dangerous?
No. Dry Needling is a very safe method if applied by trained clinicians with excellent knowledge. The clinician should always be aware where the needle tip is at all times. Contraindications have to be considered and when present dry needling may be inappropriate. Common side effects of dry needling are haematoma and post treatment soreness.
David G. Simons Academy
DVS (Dry needling Association Switzerland)