Dry needling is the process of using acupuncture needles to reduce trigger points. Trigger points or more commonly referred to as “knots” can send referred pain to distant areas in the body.

Although acupuncture needles are used with dry needling, the two are different in their approaches. Acupuncture is based off of traditional Chinese medicine, the body’s meridians, and tends to be more superficial. Dry needling is a more direct approach that targets trigger points to help restore proper muscle tone.

 Chart of trigger points and their referral patterns.

Chart of trigger points and their referral patterns.

Trigger points develop as a protective compensation by the body. Cumulative micro trauma to the body from repetitive activities and poor posture are key contributors to the development of trigger points. These trigger points make the muscle appear weak during muscle testing. This makes many medical professionals jump straight to trying to strengthen the muscle. However, you cannot strengthen a muscle that has a trigger point, because the muscle is already physiologically contracted. Attempts at strengthening a muscle with trigger points will only cause the trigger points to worsen. Therefore, we must reduce the trigger points to reset the tone of the muscle first.

Since these muscles are overactive it is not uncommon to get a local twitch response (LTR) during dry needling. When needles are inserted into trigger points a twitch response can be produced, which tells the practitioner they are in an active trigger point. Dry needling also creates an acute local inflammatory response that will help to promote healing and decrease inflammation.

Often, mild electrical stimulation is applied to the needles while in the trigger point. This elicits a muscle contraction to help reduce over activity and get the muscle to relax, as well as reduce pain. Unlike using a stimulation machine with pads, the needles allow us to get directly into the trigger point.

After performing dry needling to get the trigger point to release, we then use rehabilitation exercises to help correct faulty movement patterns and utilize under-active muscles. If we do not correct the underlying problem that brought the trigger point on in the first place then the trigger points will just develop again.

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Conditions that Benefit from Dry Needling

A variety of musculoskeletal problems including, but not limited to:

  • Acute/Chronic Injuries
  • Headaches
  • Neck/Back Pain
  • Tendinitis
  • Muscle Spasms
  • Shoulder Pain
  • Hip/Knee Pain
  • Muscle Strains
  • Tennis/Golfers Elbow
  • Knee Pain/Patellar Femoral Pain Syndrome
  • Overuse Injuries
  • Calf Pain
  • Plantar Fasciitis
  • And many more

If you have any questions about dry needling or want more information, contact TROSS today and schedule a free consultation! One of our highly qualified doctors would be happy to answer any questions you have and help guide you in the right direction. TROSS proudly serves the Cottleville, St. Peters, St. Charles, St. Louis and O’Fallon communities!  

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