Trigger Point Dry Needling Therapy: A FAQ Sheet

What is Trigger Point Dry Needling?

Dry needling is a skilled intervention that uses a thin filiform needle to penetrate the skin and stimulate underlying myofascial trigger points, muscular, and connective tissues for the management of neuromusculoskeletal pain and movement impairments. Dry needling is based on the Western medical model and numerous studies demonstrate its effectiveness. At Capitol Rehab of Arlington, dry needling is an adjunct to other physical therapy services in patients as deemed appropriate by the clinician.

What Are Trigger Points?

Trigger points are tender rope-like knots within the structure of muscle fibers. Once activated, trigger points may cause disturbed muscle function, muscle inhibition, weakness, restricted mobility and local or referred pain. Trigger points often develop as a result of overload in muscle tissue, repetitive loading, or when the body is in a stressed and tense state.

Once the filiform needle penetrates a trigger point, a ‘twitch response’ is elicited, relaxing the involved musculature. Research has shown the effects of dry needling include increased blood flow, decreased muscle tightness and normalization of the mechanical, electrical and biochemical components of muscles with myofascial dysfunction. These changes result in pain reduction, improved range of motion, and restoration of proper movement. Purposeful movement exercises are coupled with this technique to optimize recovery and results.

Who Can Benefit From Trigger Point Dry Needling?

Patient populations that can benefit from dry needling include those suffering from acute/chronic pain, tendinitis, muscle strains, cervical and lumbar disc herniations, arthritis, whiplash, and a host of other nueromuscular conditions.

What Can I Expect From Dry Needling Treatments?

The experience after dry needling varies with each patient, but it’s common to have muscle soreness and a feeling of fatigue after trigger point dry needling. The soreness may last several hours or days, and is similar to how the body feels after an intense workout. Bruising is common to some areas that are more sensitive than others, such as the shoulders, the base of the neck, the head and face, and the extremities. You can treat the bruising with ice as needed. Remember that dry needling is an invasive treatment to stimulate the muscles, and the body may feel tired after the process.

Learn more about trigger point dry needling on our blog.