PHYSIOLOGIC PHYSIOTHERAPY – WHAT IS DRY NEEDLING ?
Dry needling is a broad term used to differentiate “non-injection” needling from the practice of “injection needling” which utilises a hyperdermic syringe and usually involves the injection of an agent such as saline, local anaesthetic or corticosteroid into the tissue or specific anatomical structures.
Dry needling is really a westernised form of the traditonal acupuncutre that is used so frequently in eastern medicine. It is becoming increasingly more popular as a treatment tool used by many health clinicians. Physiotherapists are a subgroup of clinicians who use dry needling as one of many treatment modalities. The question is often asked “How does this actually work?” The answer is a complex one which involves a number of physiological and biochemical repsonses.
In short we are after specific reactions in the target tissue for a therapeutic effect. The most common tissue that is dry needled is muscle tissue. In this example the practitioner usually places the needle into a key point in the target muscle. The effect is a vast decrease in muscle tension (tone) and this usually allows better flexibility within the muscle. In addition one might see a corresponding increase in movement of adjacent joints.
These key points are called “Trigger Points” and are well documented in the literature. (see adjacent picture). They can contribute largely to a persons symptoms particularly that “muscular” type pain. The trigger point is like the “command centre” of the muscle. Dry needling can influence muscle behaviour by changing the signals that the command centre sends out to the rest of the muscle.
It should be noted that dry needling is simpy a tool used in the global management of musculo skeletal conditions. It is very effective but only when used in conjunction with an appropriate rehab program. Dry needling alone usually isnt a long term solution !
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