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Trigger Point Dry Needling

One of the best techniques for quick and long lasting trigger point deactivation is trigger point dry needling. Trigger point dry needling, sometimes referred to as medical acupuncture involves the inserting acupuncture needles into the taut muscle bands of trigger points in order to relieve pain and restricted range of motion.

Dry needling is not the same as traditional acupuncture. Traditional acupuncture is based on restoring flow of energy (“chi”) along meridians in the body. With trigger point dry needling there is no intention of affecting these energy meridians. Dry needling is based on modern Western science and our knowledge of anatomy and physiology.

What are trigger points?
A trigger point is essentially a tender, “knot” within a taut band of shortened muscle tissue.

What causes trigger points?
Trigger points are usually caused by some sort of stress on the muscle. This may be from a sudden overload due to a traumatic injury like a fall, a car accident or lifting something improperly. Alternatively it could occur over a long period of time due to prolonged low level tension within the muscle, which may be the result of poor posture, degenerative joints or emotional or metabolic stress.

There is on-going research about what’s actually happening, physiologically, within trigger points. We know that there is a continued release of certain neurotransmitters at the neuromuscular junction. Also, within trigger points there is continuous low level spontaneous electrical activity. This causes a self-sustaining contraction in that part of the muscle. Even if you consciously try to relax or stretch that part of the muscle, the knot simply won’t relax. Due to the muscle tension, there may be some decreased circulation which causes premature fatigue of the muscle at the trigger point, resulting in even more tension.

Is needling safe?
Although there are some potential risks, for which we take every precaution to minimise, dry needling is generally regarded as a safe procedure. The most serious complication which could occur is a puncture of the lung (pneumothorax). If this happened, it may only require a chest x-ray and no further treatment. Symptoms of shortness of breath may last for several days or weeks. A more severe lung puncture may require hospitalization and re-inflation of the lung. This is a rare complication and in skilled hands should not be a concern.

Other risks include excessive bleeding (causing a bruise). Bruising is a common occurrence and should not be a concern unless you are taking a blood thinner. Though the needles are sterile, there is always some risk of infection. The needles used for dry needling are very small and do not have a cutting edge, therefore the likelihood of any significant tissue trauma is small. With our extensive knowledge of anatomy, we will avoid major nerves and blood vessels.

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