What is Trigger Point Dry Needling?
This is Dr. Carly's favorite soft tissue treatment option because it can reach the deeper layers that hands and tools can't reach superficially. For muscles that are very tight and/or strong like a trapezius or calf, this is the most effective at getting those muscles to relax. Trigger Point Dry Needling (TPDN) uses a small acupuncture needle to irritate a trigger point, causing it to deactivate, lengthen, relax, or fire properly. A trigger point is characterized a hyper irritable band of tissue. Commonly, it is referred to as functional dry needling because not only can we treat pain, but also dysfunctional muscles and movement patterns. Locally, the treatment likely affects the immune, inflammatory, biomechanical, vascular and neurological systems.
- Reduces knots in muscles (especially in the upper back)
- Improves athletic performance by helping muscles to fire properly
- Reduces healing time, when compared with other treatment options
- Prevents injuries from occurring
- Heals chronic injuries of muscles, tendons and joints
How is this different from acupuncture?
The similarity to acupuncture is the usage of fine-filament needles, everything else about it is different. While acupuncturists treat meridians and the natural pathways in the body, the trigger point dry needling is used solely to treat knots in muscles. Because it can be used to treat dysfunction and not just pain, the location of the needling can vary depending on the person and the issue. For example, although two patients may present with back pain, one may require needling in the calf while the other may require needling in the glutes to assist in reducing the back discomfort. Dr. Carly's physical examination will help her determine where to treat. In contrast, acupuncturists evaluate tongue and pulse as part of their exam..
Will it Hurt?
Most patients do not feel the sharpness of the needle. Instead, you feel a dull, achy sensation, similar to a Charlie horse. Often times, you feel a twitch (quick contraction) in the muscle or a referral of pain from the spot of the needle to somewhere distal. Each muscle feels slightly different, depending on how dysfunctional the muscle is and the size of the muscle. A reproduction of pain is a great indicator of a successful treatment. It is common for a patient to feel soreness after a treatment. For example, if you had your glutes treated, it may feel like you just did 100 squats. This soreness comes from the deactivating of the trigger point, which reduces pain and restores normal length and function of the involved muscle.
How long until I see the results?
Most patients feel the benefits of trigger point dry needling immediately. Within 2-4 sessions, you start to see even more benefit in functional abilities. The treatments can vary depending on the cause and duration of the symptoms and overall health of the patient.