Trigger Point Dry Needling
Trigger Point Dry Needling is an effective physical therapy modality used in conjunction with other interventions in the treatment of orthopedic injuries with a component of myofascial pain and dysfunction.
- What is dry needling? A physical therapist with specialized post-graduate training uses Trigger Point Dry Needling as part of their treatment protocol with appropriate patients. In the State of Virginia, a physical therapist utilizes Trigger Point Dry Needling when specified by the patient’s physician in their physical therapy order. A solid filament needle is inserted into the skin and muscle directly at a myofascial trigger point. A trigger point consists of multiple contraction knots, which are related to the production and maintenance of the pain cycle. When inserting the needle into the muscle, it is essential to elicit twitch responses, which are spinal cord reflexes. The twitch response is both diagnostic and therapeutic, as it is the first step in breaking the pain cycle.
- Is dry needling acupuncture? No, Trigger Point Dry Needling is based on Western medical research and principles, whereas acupuncture is based on Eastern Chinese Medicine. The main similarity is that the same sterile, disposable solid filament needles are used. Licensed physical therapists in a number of states can use Trigger Point Dry Needling under the scope of their practice. Ann is one of a handful of physical therapists who has met Virginia’s stringent regulations to practice dry needling as part of their physical therapy treatment of patients. Ann is not a licensed acupuncturist and does not practice acupuncture.
- What kind of education/training have you participated in to learn dry needling? Ann is a Certified Athletic Trainer (A.T.,C.) and licensed physical therapist (P.T.) She is a Certified Myofascial Trigger Point Therapist (C.M.T.P.T.) through Myopain Seminars, the leading international certification program in dry needling available to physical therapists. Ann completed 107 hours of continuing education in Myofascial Trigger Point Dry Needling and successfully passed both a practical and written theory examination to become certified to perform this modality. The State of Virginia only requires 54 hours of training to perform this modality, so Ann has almost double the required hours of training, along with a certification.
- What types of problems can be treated with dry needling? Many different musculoskeletal problems can be treated with dry needling. These include, but are not limited to neck, back and shoulder pain, arm pain (tennis elbow, carpal tunnel, golfer’s elbow), headache to include migraine and tension type headache, jaw pain, and buttock and leg pain (sciatica, hamstring strains, groin strains, Achilles tendonitis, and plantar fasciitis).
- Does needling hurt? Most patients do not feel the insertion of the needle. The local twitch response elicits a very brief (less than a second) painful response. Some patients describe this as an electric shock or as a cramping sensation. Again, the therapeutic response occurs with the elicitation of the local twitch response, and that is a good and desirable reaction.
- What can I expect after treatment? Many patients report being sore after the treatment in both the area treated and the area of referred symptoms. Typically this soreness lasts between a few hours and two days. Soreness may be alleviated by applying ice or heat to the area, and performing specific stretches for the treated muscle.