Medical acupuncture, also known as dry needling, is a technique using a solid filament needle to treat hyper-irritable spots of the skeletal muscle otherwise known as trigger points.
Trigger points can be described as hard “knots” within a muscle that may cause pain over a large area. The goal of the insertion of a dry needle into a trigger point is to produce a twitch response of a muscle.
It is worth noting however that benefits can occur even without any muscle twitch. The insertion of the needle into the tight bands can interrupt the painful process and produce positive changes in the tissue.
The insertion of a needle into the trigger point can produce a deep ache or cramping pressure that lasts only briefly. Reproduction of pain and referral of symptoms may also occur, and soreness may last for 24-48 hours. Improvements in function and range of motion, decrease in complaints of pain and comfortable mobility may be experienced after treatment.
Dry needling allows access to deep musculature that may never have been reached without the use of a needle. By releasing the muscle restrictions through trigger point dry needling, an Osteopath is able to further enhance a patients care and return to function more effectively.
It is important to note muscle trigger point dry needling has no similarities with traditional acupuncture except for the needle being used during the process. There isn’t any substantial evidence that dry needling is effective, however many patients have reported benefits from the treatment.