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Is Trigger Point Dry Needling for You?

Trigger point dry needling is a very effective tool used by some physical therapists. Some of the most popular conditions treated are low back pain, tennis elbow, tension headaches, patellarfemoral knee pain, plantar fasciitis, and frozen shoulders, just to name a few. The goals of this treatment are to reduce pain, improve range of motion, and maximize muscle function and efficiency while striving to meet your personal goals. Your trained physical therapist will perform a thorough evaluation and medical history of your symptoms to determine if you are a good candidate for this treatment.

What exactly is trigger point dry needling?
As noted by the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), “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. It is a technique used to treat dysfunctions in skeletal muscle, fascia, and connective tissue, and to diminish persistent peripheral nociceptive input, and reduce or restore impairments in body structure and function, leading to improved activity and participation.”

So what does trigger point dry needling feel like?
The skin is cleansed with alcohol and then palpated to find a tight band of tissue where you have an active trigger point in the muscle that causes the most pain. At that point, a very thin needle is inserted with minimal discomfort. The common feeling is a temporary muscle aching or cramping or the optimal response is a muscle twitch. Typically, positive responses are noticed in two to four treatments, but of course, results can vary depending on how chronic the symptoms are. After each treatment, a patient should expect to feel muscle soreness and/or fatigue similar to the way a person would feel after a hard workout at a gym. This soreness typically lasts for 48-72 hours.

A popular question is, “Are you injecting me with anything?” The answer is no, hence the term “dry” needle.

Is trigger point dry needling acupuncture?
No, acupuncture is performed by an acupuncturist and trigger point dry needling is performed by trained physical therapists. These two differ in terms and the theories and historical origins of where it was developed. Physical therapists who do use this as part of their practice use it based on western neuroanatomy for musculoskeletal and nervous system evidence-based science.

If you feel this treatment might be beneficial for you, please discuss it with your physician and ask them for a referral to our physical therapy department. We welcome questions anytime and you may call the Johnson County Physical Therapy department at 402-335-6400.

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