3 Weekends Course. What is Dry Needling?
Dry needling is an invasive procedure whereby solid filament (acupuncture) needles are inserted into the skin and muscle directly at a myofascial triggerpoint.
A myofascial triggerpoint (sometimes known as a knot) consists of multiple contraction knots, which are related to the production and maintenance of the pain cycle. The approach is based on Western anatomical and neurophysiological principles which are not to be confused with the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) technique of acupuncture (Travell & Simons 1999).
How does Dry Needling work?
The pioneering studies by Dr Shah and colleagues at the National Institutes of Health (USA) suggest that inserting a needle into trigger points can cause favourable biochemical changes which assist in reducing pain. It is essential to elicit a Local Twitch Response which is a spinal cord reflex and is the first step in breaking the pain cycle.
- Something causes pain, if it happens often enough or if the trauma is great enough, the pain signal may return through the Sympathietic Ganglion and activate Primary Afferent Nocioceptors (H) which will feedback to the spinal cord. This will cause pain to continue instead of fade and is called a Reflex Arc.
- At the same time motor neurones may become stuck in a feedback loop/reflex arc, facilitating muscle spasm. In some cases the reflex arc continues for years, even decades.
- Introducing a new stimulus (i.e. the needle) impedes the reflex arc and has the effect of relaxing the muscle.