Where Did Dry Needling Originate?
The modern discipline of dry needling was invented by a Czech physician, Karel Lewit, in 1979. Dry needling is a separate tradition from acupuncture, which has its origins in ancient Chinese philosophy and medicine.
How Does Dry Needling Work?
Dry needling works by targeting myofascial trigger points, which are areas of muscle that become knotted and tight. A thin monofilament needle inserted into a trigger point releases tension and stimulates normal blood flow to the area, flushing the trigger point with much-needed nutrients to repair damaged muscle.
Does Dry Needling Hurt?
While dry needling is associated with decreased discomfort in the long-term, patients may experience some short-term tenderness once a trigger point has been released. This is a sign that the trigger point is healing. You may also experience some minor bruising and swelling for 2-3 days after dry needling therapy.
How Do Myofascial Trigger Points Form?
When muscles are overworked, strained, or damaged due to trauma, inappropriate muscular contraction causes them to run short on blood and nutrient supply. This causes tightness, as muscles need adequate oxygen and nutrients in order to relax and return to their resting state. These strained muscles tighten as the body tries to stabilize them against further overuse or injury. Chronic stress and anxiety can also contribute to this process of muscle tightening. This creates knots of muscle pain, otherwise known as myofascial trigger points. This restricts blood supply and causes the tissue around the trigger point to become more acidic, which leads to discomfort in the surrounding nerves. The nerves often become increasingly sensitive with time due to their restricted, acidic environment. This contributes to overall discomfort. At Wayne Massage, a trained dry needling therapist locates trigger points with a general knowledge of the body’s trigger point map. As each individual’s trigger points can vary slightly, the therapist also tests for trigger points through touch.
Targeting Trigger Points
If you’re dealing with nagging injuries or chronic muscle pain, physical therapy and stretching may not work as quickly as you need. Dry needling can offer another form of therapeutic relief. Depending on your injury type and the location of your discomfort, there are two general techniques used for dry needling:
Intramuscular stimulation (IMS)
The needle is inserted directly into the trigger point to encourage blood to flow into the tight, knotty area. This helps to bring oxygen and nutrients back to the areas that need it. By stimulating this normal blood flow, IMS dry needling can help the muscle return to its resting state. Once the needle is inserted, the therapist may also move the needle slightly to incite a small muscle twitch, which helps release the trigger point. As a result, blood flow flushes away the acidic build-up in the myofascial tissue, creating a healthier environment for the surrounding nerves.
Superficial dry needling (SDN)
During an SDN session, the needle is inserted approximately 3-4 mm above the site of the trigger point. This activates an analgesic mechanism in the central nervous system encouraging the release of endorphins, which function as natural muscle pain relief.
Will I Need Multiple Dry Needling Sessions?
While some individuals notice a significant or complete improvement in their symptoms after one dry needling session, others require multiple sessions to help fully release trigger points. This may be due to long-term, complex injuries where trigger points layer over time or it may be due to external stressors that encourage the body to tighten and tense. For individuals who require multiple dry needling sessions in order to experience full relief, massage therapy can help tight muscles relax and complement the benefits of dry needling.
How Does Dry Needling Work With Other Methods?
Dry needling is a modern, Western discipline while acupuncture originates from ancient China. However, many therapists at Wayne’s Massage are trained in both disciplines. We believe these unique therapeutic methods help bring lasting, life-altering relief to patients who need it most. Dry needling can also serve as a useful addition to a well-rounded wellness regimen. By targeting trigger points and stimulating healthy blood flow, it can make your at-home stretching and physical therapy exercises more effective. It can also help your body become more receptive to the benefits of massage therapy.
Contact Wayne Massage
If you’re interested in dry needling to help you fight muscle pain, contact Wayne Massage. Dry needling can help you feel better in your everyday life, boost your sense of vitality, and even improve your athletic performance. Get in touch via our online contact form or call any of our Sydney-area locations to book an appointment: