Dry Needling is a general term for a therapeutic treatment procedure that involves multiple advances of a filament needle into the muscle in the area of the body that produces pain and typically contains a trigger point.
There is no injectable solution and the needle that is used is very thin. Most patients will not even feel the needle penetrate the skin, but once it advances into the muscle, the discomfort can vary from patient to patient. Usually a healthy muscle feels very little discomfort upon insertion of the needle; however, if the muscle is sensitive and shortened or contains active trigger points, the subject may feel a sensation much like a muscle cramp, often referred to as a ‘twitch response”.
The twitch response also has a biochemical characteristic to it that likely affects the reaction of the muscle, symptoms and response of the tissue. The patient may only feel the cramping sensation locally or they may feel a referral of pain or similar symptoms for which they are seeking treatment. A reproduction of their pain can be a helpful diagnostic indicator of the cause of the symptoms. Patients soon learn to recognize and even welcome this sensation, as it results in deactivating the trigger point, reducing pain and restoring normal length and function of the involved muscle. Typically, positive results are apparent within 2-4 treatment sessions but can vary depending on the cause and duration of the symptoms.
Dry needling is an effective treatment for acute and chronic pain, rehabilitation from injury, and even pain and injury prevention, with very few side effects. This technique is assists the provider in finding and eliminating neuromuscular dysfunction that leads to pain and functional deficits.