A couple of months ago, I attended a course on dry needing held by Kinetacore. I heard great things about dry needling from former students and PT classmates that have been using the technique in practice. I am a very skeptical person, so for me to trust that something works, I have to try it out for myself. The problem for me has been my fear of needles! It had deterred my curiosity with the technique… So I decided it was time to face my fear.

What is Dry Needling?
Dry needling involves the use of a fine filament needle (like an acupuncture needle) to deactivate or relax a Trigger Point within a taut muscle band.

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What are Trigger points?
The classic and most commonly used description of trigger points is that defined by Travell and Simons (1992). Basically, they said that a trigger point is kind of like a nodule in a tight band of muscle or tendon that can produce referred pain (pain that is felt somewhere other than where the trigger point is located). When they are pressed on or a needle it stuck in one, they will sometimes twitch or cause the body to jump. When we see those things after a needle is placed, we know that we have hit the right spot!

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Figure 1 G. Medius trigger points

 

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What causes a trigger point?
? Poor Posture
? Repetitive movements
? Compressive forces like using a mouse for long periods of time
? Trauma (Either the trauma itself or the body?s compensation for that trauma)

Those changes may lead to chemical changes all over the body. I don?t want to bore you, but we are talking about things like having an Acidic pH, increased level of Substance P etc?

The Primary goal of Dry Needling is to desensitize supersensitive structures and restore motion and function. These goals are achieved by:
1. Releasing shortened muscles
2. Removing the source of the irritation by needling shortened paraspinal muscles
3. Promote healing (needle produces local inflammation)
4. Decrease spontaneous electrical activity (SEA) at the site of the Trigger Point

What should patients expect after treatment?
a. Soreness like you just worked out hard
b. Improved ROM but initially it may feel tighter
c. Occasionally there will be bruising
d. Possibly the feeling of a ?runners high? or even light headed

Who can benefit from this?
? Chronic pain patients that have tried it all.
? Athletic populations that have good overall health but have a specific recurring injury.
? Elderly People as it is a safe and drug free way to relieve pain
? Anyone with pain and dysfunction!

I have had some great outcomes since starting dry needling and I am really excited about the potential it has to help patients. It is another tool in the toolbox, not the magic wand. Using this along with the Graston technique, Kinesio? Taping Method, and joint manipulation can only help patients? pain decrease quicker and move through the Funhab? pyramid quicker as well ? in other words, it will help you reach your goals that much faster!

Dr. Robert Agosto, PT, DPT, CKTP
Doctor of Chiropractic, Rockville MD
[email protected]

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