Dry needling specific areas in muscles called trigger points is an evidence based technique for relieving and often eliminating pain coming from muscles such as back pain, neck and shoulder pain. Muscle pain can come in many forms from just being tender to touch, to a consistent ache to an excruciating spasm. Dry needling with acupuncture needles can help.
How effective is dry needling at relieving back muscle pain?
The 2009 NICE guidelines recommend that dry needling as a useful adjunct for health practioners for the treatment of low back pain . One famous study showed that the needle caused immediate back pain relief in nearly 86% of needle sites. In over 31% of cases the pain relief was permanent; 20% had several months of pain relief and 22%, were better for several weeks.
What is dry needling?
Dry needling uses a very fine acupuncture needle to “deactivate” or “shut down” painful or knotted areas in your muscles. Many of us have areas in our body that feel tense all the time or feel like a hard ball in the muscle. By inserting fine needles into these tight areas, we elicit a “twitch response” or a brief contraction followed by an immediate and long lasting relaxation. Because the needle can treat very deep parts of the muscle it can often reach deeper muscles that other techniques such as massage can not reach.
How does dry needling work?
Based on pioneering work by Dr Jay Shah colleagues at the National Institutes of Health we know that inserting a needle into a trigger point can cause favourable biochemical changes which assist in reducing pain. It is most effective when there is a local twitch response and this can be described as a “deep aching”, “pressure”, “releasing” or “soreness”. The needle is left in for a very short period of time, just long enough to relax the muscle. The procedure is repeated in different areas until the muscle returns to its normal, relaxed state.
What can it help?
Essentially any postural problem or injury where the pain is primarily from a muscle. Most commonly it can be used with
So problems such arm and shoulder pain from mouse and keyboard overuse respond very well.
One last thing, dry needling is just one way of relieving muscular pain. If you have a needle phobia or just don’t like the idea of the technique there are other effective techniques we use at Sundial to help relieve your muscle pain such as laser therapy, massage and chiropractic.
References Dry Needling In Orthopaedic Physical Therapy Practice, Jan Dommerholt, Orthopaedic Practice, Vol16, 3:04