A special note for Elite Muscle Therapy clients:
Kaz uses a very gentle technique of dry needling, that she has developed since first learning needling techniques in 2011. This can be much more effective than traditional dry needling, simply because the tissues are allowed to "relax" around the needles.
This may not suit everyone, but for the vast majority of her clients it has greater long term effects (and it's much more comfortable to receive!).
The following information is comprehensive, but non exhaustive. As more studies are conducted globally, more information will be available regarding the efficacy of needling and its various subtypes.
DRY NEEDLING, like acupuncture, uses very fine needles that are inserted into muscles and tissues of the body. It is a very effective way to compliment massages and physical treatments, as a way of relieving tension and trigger points found in muscles.
What is a trigger point?
When trigger points are present in muscles, there is often pain and weakness in the associated structures. Trigger points (TrPs), also known as trigger sites or muscle knots, form mainly in muscles and are described as hyper-irritable spots in skeletal tissue that are associated with palpable nodules within taut bands of muscle fibers. These taut bands of tissue can pull on tendons and ligaments associated with the muscle, and can cause pain deep within a joint - where there are no muscles.
Pressing on an affected muscle can often refer pain or other neural symptoms, either locally or into another area of the body (known as a trigger point referral pattern). Clusters of trigger points are not uncommon in some of the larger muscles, such as the Gluteus group (Gluteus Maximus, Gluteus Medius, & Gluteus Minimus). Often there is a surface heat differential in the local area of a trigger point, which many therapists can sense. Often a twitch response can be elicited in the muscle by running your finger perpendicular to the muscle's direction; this twitch response often activates the "all or nothing" response in a muscle that causes it to contract.
The pain referral patterns in muscles follow specific nerve pathways and have been extensively mapped to allow identification of the causative pain factors. Many trigger points have referral patterns that overlap, and some create reciprocal cyclic relationships that sometimes need to be treated extensively to remove them.
Is Dry Needling the same as Acupuncture and how can it help?
No. Dry needling is strictly based on Western medicine principles and research, whereas acupuncture is based on Eastern Chinese medicine. The major difference is that dry needling is a treatment directed specifically at a palpable trigger point in a muscle, whereas acupuncture focuses on meridian points to promote energy flow in the body. The main similarity is that both dry needling and acupuncture use the same type of acupuncture needles. Dry needling can help reduce headaches, sciatica and other neural symptoms including numbness and tingling, muscular soreness caused by under or over–activity, joint pain, cramping muscles, and many other pain symptoms/ restrictions.
What type of needles are used, and why is it called “dry” needling?
Only sterile, single-use acupuncture needles are used, which are disposed of in a medical sharps container. These are solid filaments versus hollow filament syringe needles, which are used for injections. Dry needling, therefore, is not the same as trigger point injections as it does not involve the injection of a substance below the skin, lending to the use of the term "dry". The needle used in dry needling is also much finer, since a hollow filament is not necessary.
What to expect during and after a dry needling treatment.
Most clients do not feel the insertion of the needle, but sometimes the local twitch response elicits a very brief (less than a second) pain response. Some people describe this as a little electrical shock; others feel it more like an ache, cramping or tingling sensation. Again, the therapeutic response occurs with the elicitation of local twitch responses, which is a good and desirable reaction.
Responses to treatment are variable. Most clients report being sore or achy after the treatment and sometimes describe it as muscle achiness over the area treated and into the areas of trigger point referral symptoms.
Occasionally there may be some minor bruising in the areas needles have been inserted - this is a normal and expected side effect.
Typically, the post-needling symptoms can last between a few hours and a couple of days.
Please contact your therapist if you have any questions, feedback or concerns
about your dry needling treatment.
Copyright Kaz Jackson nee Hagedorn 2011 (updated 2023).
Padanilam SJ, Dayton SR, Jarema R, Boctor MJ, Tjong VK. Dry Needling for the Treatment of Musculoskeletal Ailments With Trigger Points. Video Journal of Sports Medicine. 2021. doi:10.1177/26350254211023776 (https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/26350254211023776?fbclid=IwAR3R3HPZkynklLZzQ-48rPC-m5OQRFy7_rCJ0MxI8CDwJks40azHmWvhUug&)
Jiménez-del-Barrio, S., Medrano-de-la-Fuente, R., Hernando-Garijo, I., Mingo-Gómez, M. T., Estébanez-de-Miguel, E., & Ceballos-Laita, L. (2022). The Effectiveness of Dry Needling in Patients with Hip or Knee Osteoarthritis: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.
Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/life12101575
Luis Ceballos-Laita, Sandra Jiménez-del-Barrio, Javier Marín-Zurdo, Alejandro Moreno-Calvo, Javier Marín-Boné, María Isabel Albarova-Corral, Elena Estébanez-de-Miguel,
Effects of dry needling on pain, pressure pain threshold and psychological distress in patients with mild to moderate hip osteoarthritis: Secondary analysis of a randomized controlled trial,
Complementary Therapies in Medicine, Volume 51, 2020