trigger point dry needling
Trigger point therapy aka “Dry Needling” is an extremely effective technique that uses the insertion of fine acupuncture needles to “deactivate” or “shut down” painful or knotted areas in your muscles. Most of us have areas in our bodies that feel tense or tight and restricted whether due to athletic activities or repetitive strain, poor ergonomics. When inserting the needle with a specific technique into these tight areas, we elicit a “twitch response” or a brief contraction followed by an immediate and long lasting relaxation of the muscle fibers which often corresponds with shutting down the pain response.
The physiology behind this type of treatment goes like this:
1. The needle creates a slight micro-trauma to the underlying tissue.
2. The body recognizes this irritation and creates a histamine response.
3. The histamine corresponds to increase blood flow which floods the tissue with rich oxygenated blood.
4. The oxygen enters the cells of the muscles that have been restricted and allows them to be fed (finally!….restricted tissue and “knots” have poor blood supply and are painful because of their lack of mobility and flexibility).
5. The muscle responds to this new oxygen infusion with an involuntary twitch response. The muscle fibers have been “set free” and will now move with ease and an immediate physical change occurs both to the touch and to the feel of the tissue. The patient often is aware of this and their physical pain diminishes and their control over the muscle increases. It is a quite extraordinary phenomenon!
This type of therapy is based off of the clinical findings of Dr. Janet Travell, author of “Myofascial Pain Referral Patterns”. Dr. Travell performed extensive research on how fascia (the intricate fabric of connective tissue) creates specific patterns of pain and when needled correctly at very specific areas, can disengage the muscle and remediate pain immediately.
Bianca taught a course called “Myology”, the Art of Manipulating Fascial Restrictions, at TriState College of Acupuncture (TSCA) in NYC for 5 years where she was known by her students as the “queen of fascia”. Jodie also assisted 3rd year students in their clinical rotation at TSCA during their trigger point rotation as she too has mastered the art of dry needling.
It can effectively treat any and all pain related complaints due to muscle, connective tissue and fascial restrictions.
Please note, Acupuncturists are the most proficient at this type of needling. PT’s (aside from Bianca, who received a full PT and Acupuncture education), Chiropractors, MD’s and DO’s who practice dry needling attend a weekend course of 27 hours for a certification vs an Acupuncturists 3,000 hour training. Please be an informed consumer when looking for a practitioner who dry needles. Seek out a trained Acupuncturist with this specialty!
A quick visual to see where trigger points can refer pain and why they’re often overlooked and under treated: