Tight or dysfunctional muscles very often have hyperirritable spots or as most people experience it, tight, tender knots in their muscles. These are known as trigger points. It is usually the size of pea and when pressure is applied to the area, tenderness, pain and referring pain is experienced. Very often people find that the pain they experience when a trigger point is being treated, be it local or referring, is a familiar type of pain or ache that they have. Different types of massage and manual therapies have proven to deactivate and relief the tender areas and pain which allowed the person to feel looser and less tight in their muscles.
Dry needling (also known as trigger point needling) is a scientifically proven form of treatment to treat trigger points. Very thin needles are inserted into the taut bands (knot areas) to bring relief to the area. When the needle is inserted, very often a local twitch response is experienced. After a dry needling treatment the area in the muscle which has been treated feels much softer and relaxed and the person will feel looser.
This type of treatment should not be confused with Acupuncture. Dry needling is treating trigger points whereas Acupuncture is based on ancient Chinese medicine dating back thousands of years working on the meridians of the body.
Most people can be treated with dry needling. People who are overweight or obese would not benefit from dry needling due to extra layers of tissue that need to be accessed. Dry needling is especially effective in those areas which are muscle dense, e.g. gluteals and hips. Deep tissue treatment in these areas can sometimes be uncomfortable, tender and bruise the tissue due to the pressure to reach the deeper layer of muscles. However, with the dry needling the therapist can go straight to the area which needs to be treated without causing bruising or exquisite tenderness.
At Studio 23 our therapists will use both manual bodywork techniques and dry needling skills during a treatment. Disposable gloves are worn by the therapist and sterile needles are used. Our therapist has over 4 years experience in bodywork treatments. After a treatment tenderness or soreness might be experienced from 12 – 36 hours, depending on the condition of the client. Clients are always advised to drink plenty of water to help the body to flush out biochemical waste products released during the treatment. Training immediately and the next day after a session is not advised.
How often will I receive treatments?
Usually every 1 to 2 weeks. This allows the muscles to stabilise between treatments.
Are there any reasons why I should not have dry-needling?
There are very few. If you are taking anticoagulant medicines such as warfarin, or if you have skin infections near the trigger points, then needling should not be used. Obesity and pregnancy would be contraindications to dry neddling.
Is dry-needling safe?
Yes, studies have shown that it is one of the safest forms of medical intervention known. It is far safer than using drugs.
Are there any side effects?
Usually not. Occasionally there is an ache for a day or two afterwards. Sometime people feel sleepy after treatment so care should be taken with driving immediately after treatment. Sometimes people feel more wide awake. In general, however there is no notable changes and you can carry on you normal activities after a session
Can I use the gym whilst on treatment?
Yes, but you should not exercise the part of the body which is being treated as this will tend to reduce the treatment effect.
Is this acupuncture?
No. Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese treatment and relies on “menus” of acupuncture points which have been constructed over thousands of years. The needles are left in position in varying parts of the body for 20 minutes at time. Although treatment can be effective, the theory does not fit in to western medicine and is not related to specific muscles. Dry-needling does have similarities, but unlike acupuncture it is firmly based on scientific medicine. Acupuncture needles are used because they minimise bruising and are very fine.
Does dry-needling hurt?
The needle is so sharp and thin you will not feel it enter your skin. When the trigger point is touched, it can be quite painfull, but the pain is very transient and is of a burning nature. The amount of pain felt seems to vary from person to person, but almost everyone agrees the relief of pain from the treatment is well worth the “investment”.
Does this affect my ability to donate blood?
No. The technique uses sterile disposable needles and does not come under the “acupuncture” category of the National Blood Transfusion Service. There is no need to declare you have had this form of treatment when donating blood.
Where do you find Trigger Points and Myofascial Pain?
Just about anywhere! In the muscles across the shoulders and in the neck they are a common cause of persistent headache. In the spine they cause back pain and in the buttock muscles cause hip and leg pain. Around the knee they cause pain referred to the knee and around the elbow they often cause pain similar to tennis elbow. They are a very common cause of shoulder pain.