What is Dry Needling?
Dry needling is a technique in which your physiotherapist will insert a thin, sterile, disposable needle into a target area of your body. It is referred to as “dry” because the needle does not contain medication. The aim of dry needling is to release the trigger point in the affected tissue and thus restore homeostasis which is balancing out the chemical environment in the tissue.
The needle causes a local disruption of the tissue, bringing fresh blood flow, and thus encourage tissue repair. The needle will cause neurological and physiological effects to the muscle. Blood will flush into the area, and assist the normal healing process by bringing oxygen and nutrients to the affected area. Dry needling should always be followed by active movement to restore tissue mobility and strength.
When is Dry Needling indicated?
Muscle spasm or pain
One of the most common causes of persistent musculoskeletal pain is myofascial trigger points. These are painful, tender areas that may occur in muscles and fascia (the network of connective tissue that runs as a continuum throughout your body). When an area of the body is exposed to unaccustomed or long durations of activity or load, muscle fibers and fascia may undergo micro-trauma, resulting in the release of calcium.
This calcium release triggers further muscle contraction and shortening of the muscle fibers. If the load is not addressed, this sustained muscle contraction may compromise blood flow to the affected area. This will prevent adequate oxygen and nutrient supply to the tissue.
Dry needling can be used during all stages of the healing process and it will accelerate the healing of sports injuries. Your physiotherapist will decide what type of needle will be appropriate for each stage of healing. Smaller needles are used for acute swollen injuries while deeper needles will be used for older injuries.
Dry needling aims to treat sinusitis in the early stages of inflammation, facilitate drainage of mucous, reduce swelling and manage pain.
Dry needling is an adjunct therapy that is used in combination with other treatment techniques. It will not be used if the patient is not comfortable with the invasive technique, has a needle phobia, or when there are other identified contraindications. It is a highly effective, efficient, inexpensive technique that generally offers immediate pain relief and holds minimal risk when performed by a trained physiotherapist.