Dry Needling & Trigger Points
By: Garrett Fischer, DPT, DN
What is a trigger point?
A trigger point is a tight band of skeletal muscle that is located within a larger muscle group. A trigger point can be tender to the touch, and pressing on it can also cause pain to radiate to other parts of the body. Trigger points are hard to treat and eliminate, but dry needling is an effective method for dealing with trigger point pain.
How do trigger points form?
Trigger points occur when the muscle experiences injuries or overuse and inflammation builds up in the damaged tissues. Once this happens, the muscle enters what’s called a protective tension state, or contracture to protect itself against further damage. Contracture then inhibits micro-circulation, which subsequently deprives the tissues of oxygen-rich blood.
Waste products can’t leave the site of the injury if no blood is effectively able to circulate.
So, the injury site becomes oxygen deprived. The body then creates cells called fibroblasts that produce scar tissue. Scarring limits the tissue’s ability to fully function, and the muscle bands become short and taut. This irritates the nerves, causing pain.
How does dry needling treat trigger point pain?
A Physical Therapist will take a thin, unmedicated filiform needle to penetrate the skin, deep into the muscle tissue. The needle will stimulate the underlying myofascial trigger point and the surrounding areas. That tight band of oxygen-deprived scar tissue, when a needle is inserted into it, will produce what’s called a twitch reflex.
The twitch reflex decreases muscle contraction, reduces irritation and pain, and also improves flexibility.
The body thinks the needle is a foreign invader, and it activates the immune system. Cut muscle fibers then produce an inflammatory reaction that helps to reduce inflammation all through the body, not just at the site of the penetrated trigger point.
Trigger points are incredibly difficult to manipulate and treat manually. A Physical Therapist can trigger and target tissues that they otherwise could not stimulate manually when they use dry needling.
Dry needling is also relatively painless, but during the local twitch response, you may feel a slight cramping or aching sensation. This is brief and indicates that the method is working to stimulate the muscle fibers and produce an immune system response.
What happens after dry needling treatment?
Your Physical Therapist will look for improvements after the first session, including increased range of motion, and decreased feelings of pain or tightness. You may feel sore or experience bruising after dry needling therapy, but you can apply ice and heat to these areas to alleviate any discomfort.
If you’re experiencing the pain and decreased range of motion from trigger points and other muscular strain, dry needling from a licensed physical therapist can bring you much-needed relief. Our Idaho location is offering Dry Needing by our certified Doctor of Physical Therapy, Garrett Fischer. It is legal in the state of Idaho and hopefully one day in all states.
Does Insurance Pay for Dry Needling?
It does! If you do not have medical insurance, No problem! We have affordable solutions for YOU!
To Schedule an appointment at our Idaho Location for Dry Needling,
*Credit where credit is due, Mahalo: Team For Life Movement.
*Dry Needling IS Legal in the State of Idaho.