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Chronic pain is a widespread problem in Australia, with an estimated 1 in 5 people suffering from a chronic condition. Chronic conditions can range from back pain to arthritis to migraine headaches. Chronic pain is notoriously difficult to treat, and many medications prescribed to manage pain have a high risk of addiction and abuse.  Complementary medical practices like dry needling offer an excellent alternative for chronic pain management.  Dry needling is a relatively new treatment for chronic back pain. But what does dry needling do? Learn how dry needling manipulates trigger points to help relieve tension and pain and how you can incorporate this treatment into a pain management plan.


What Does Dry Needling Do: How Does it Work?

Dry needling is a technique used to treat muscle and back pain. It involves inserting a thin needle into the skin and muscles to stimulate the nervous system. This stimulates a twitch mechanism in taut bands of muscle (trigger points).  Trigger points are considered to be a primary cause of chronic muscular pain. An injury, repetitive motion, or sustained postures can lead to excess production of acetylcholine, which prevents the muscle fibres from contracting.  This causes the muscle bands to become taut. Trigger points can also lead to muscular hypoxia (or a lack of oxygen) in the muscle tissue, which causes pain. Inserting the needle into these trigger points causes a muscle spasm that releases the tense muscle, increases blood flow and reduces pain. 

Techniques Used in Dry Needling

There are two main types of dry needling: in-and-out techniques and non-trigger point techniques.   dry needling do sydneyThe in-and-out technique involves inserting the needle into the muscle and then moving it in and out using a piston-like action. The needle is not left inside the trigger point for a prolonged duration.   Non-trigger point techniques involve inserting the needle into the muscle surrounding the trigger point without moving it. This can help to stimulate the nervous system and reduce back pain   Both types of dry needling can effectively treat muscle and back pain; however, discussing which type of dry needling is best for you with your massage therapist is crucial to getting the most out of your treatment.

What Does Dry Needling Do: What are the Benefits of Dry Needling?

There are many potential benefits of dry needling, including:

  • Relief from chronic pain
  • Improvement in range of motion
  • Reduced muscle fatigue
  • Reduced tension headaches
  • Reduced stress and anxiety

Dry needling is safe and has very few side effects. The most common side effect is temporarily bruised skin at the needle site. 

What Conditions Can Dry Needling Treat?

Dry needling is an increasingly popular treatment for various conditions that cause muscle, joint, or back pain   Dry needling has shown effectiveness in treating migraines, TMJ, chronic back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and tendonitis. In some cases, it can even improve range of motion and relieve muscle tension to help reduce the risk of sports injuries and enhance athletic performance.    If you are suffering from chronic pain, dry needling may be worth considering as a potential treatment option.   Dry needling is unsuitable for patients with:

  • Bleeding disorders
  • Compromised immune system
  • Lymphedema
  • Vascular disease
  • Diabetes
  • Epilepsy


The Dry Needling Procedure

Dry needling is a safe, effective treatment performed by qualified practitioners at Wayne Massage. During your session, your therapist will first walk you through the procedure and answer any questions you have.   Then, you’ll lay down on the exam table, and once you are relaxed, the therapist will insert tiny filiform needles into the affected myofascial trigger points. Filiform needles are not hollow and do not inject any type of substance into your skin.    After the needles are inserted, they are quickly removed. The process is repeated several times in the trigger point and surrounding muscle to release tension, desensitise the nervous system, minimise nerve compression, and target inflammation.   After the needles are removed, you may feel some minor discomfort and bruising. You may also experience minor bleeding; however, the needle is so fine that there is usually no blood. These side effects are typically mild and should resolve within a few days.   Contact your practitioner immediately if you experience any severe pain or persistent bleeding. 

Dry Needling vs Acupuncture

There are several key differences between acupuncture and dry needling   Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese therapy that involves the insertion of thin needles into the skin at specific points along your body’s meridians. It operates on the principle of Qi, your body’s vital life force. Blocked Qi can lead to numerous adverse health conditions; unblocking your Qi with the specific placement of acupuncture needles can provide relief.    In traditional acupuncture, the needles are inserted to a superficial depth in the skin. During dry needling, thin needles are inserted into the muscle tissue to target specific trigger points   There is some debate over which form of therapy is more effective; however, both acupuncture and dry needling have been shown to provide relief from pain and tension.  Both treatments are also considered safe and effective when performed by a trained professional. The main difference between the two therapies lies in their approaches.    Acupuncture seeks to promote balance and wellbeing by stimulating energy flow, while dry needling focuses on relieving muscle tension and triggering a healing response. As a result, each treatment may be more effective for certain conditions than others. 

Alleviate Muscle and Joint Pain with Dry Needling at Wayne Massage

At Wayne Massage, we are proud to offer dry needling to help our clients alleviate muscle and joint pain.    If you are suffering from muscle or joint pain, we encourage you to experience the benefits of dry needling for yourself. Our experienced therapists will work with you to create a treatment plan that meets your specific needs. Contact us today at (02) 8073-9376 to find out what dry needling can do for your pain today.   References: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare – Chronic Pain in Australia https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/chronic-disease/chronic-pain-in-australia/summary    Australian Institute of Health and Welfare – Back Pain https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/chronic-musculoskeletal-conditions/back-problems/contents/what-are-back-problems   Dry Needling versus Acupuncture: the Ongoing Debate https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26546163/   Dry Needling: a Literature Review with Implications for Clinical Practice Guidelines https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4117383/   Beneficial Effects of Dry Needling for Treatment of Chronic Myofascial Pain Persist for 6 Weeks After Treatment Completion https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5149452/