What is Trigger Point Dry Needling?

Trigger Point Dry Needling is a hands on technique that eliminates trigger points from muscles.  It is the best way to completely remove trigger points and is often more permanent than other manual trigger point therapies. 

Why is it called dry needling?

It is called dry needling because it is derived from an older technique called trigger point injections.  These injections were "wet" meaning that they injected a liquid substance through a hypodermic needle.  Dry needling uses a solid filament needle and does not inject anything and so is called "dry". It is sometimes called trigger point needling and intramuscular needling.

What is it?

A very fine solid filament needle is inserted into the muscle.  Prior to insertion the trigger point is located by palpating the muscle.  Often patients don't feel the needle insertion at all.  Once the needle goes into the trigger point, the muscle "twitches" which feels like a very quick muscle contraction.  There can be a cramping feeling that accompanies the twitch.  Often trigger points are clustered together so many twitches can be provoked in  a small area. Although the twitch is often not comfortable, it is a sign that that trigger point has been eliminated.  It is an essential part of dry needling.

How is dry needling different from trigger point injections?

Decades ago it was discovered that trigger points could be eliminated by doing injections into them.  Over time, it was realized that it didn't matter what substance was injected (local anesthetic, saline solution or botox).  The therapeutic part of the injection was the twitch response (discussed above).  Trigger point injections are still done and do work if the practitioner is skilled at palpating the trigger point, getting a twitch response and identifying referred pain patterns.  The downside of trigger point injections is that hypodermic needles are much larger than solid filament needles and therefore disrupt the tissue more and cause more bleeding.  Less trigger points can be treated at a time.  The local anesthetic that is used does numb the area for 1-2 hours but after that post treatment soreness is similar to the dry needling. 

 To view a video about dry needling click on image below.