Dry needling is the use of solid filiform needles for therapy of muscle pain, sometimes also known as intramuscular stimulation.
What’s the Difference between Acupuncture and Dry Needling?
Dry needling for the treatment of myofascial (muscular) trigger points is based on theories similar to traditional acupuncture; however, dry needling targets the trigger points, which is the direct and palpable source of patient pain, rather than the traditional “meridians”, accessed via acupuncture.
What distinguishes dry needling from traditional acupuncture is that it does not use the full range of traditional theories of Chinese Medicine.
How It Works…
In the treatment of trigger points for a person with myofascial pain syndrome, dry needling is an invasive procedure in which a filiform needle is inserted into the skin and muscle directly at a myofascial trigger point. A myofascial trigger point consists of multiple contraction knots, which are related to the production and maintenance of the pain cycle. Deep dry needling for treating trigger points was first introduced by Czech physician Karel Lewit in 1979. Lewit had noticed that the success of injections into trigger points in relieving pain was apparently unconnected to the analgesic used.
Proper dry needling of a myofascial trigger point will elicit a local twitch response (LTR), which is an involuntary spinal cord reflex in which the muscle fibers in the taut band of muscle contract. The LTR indicates the proper placement of the needle in a trigger point. Dry needling that elicits LTRs improves treatment outcomes, and may work by activating a healing process on many levels.