Dry Needling as a Treatment Technique

by Rachel Varga, MSc.PT, Registered Physiotherapist

Dry needling is a term that might sound intimidating to those who have never heard of this technique before. As such, I wanted to take some time to explain what it is and how it is used in clinical practice, so you can hopefully feel a bit more familiar with it by the time you are finished reading!

Trigger point dry needling is a procedure where an acupuncture needle is inserted into a muscle to treat pain. The part of the muscle that the needle is inserted into is called a “trigger point.” These irritable points are what you might be more familiar with calling a “knot” in the muscle.

Once the needle is inserted into the trigger point, it will elicit a twitch response. A twitch response is what we call an involuntary contraction of the muscle. This occurs when the taut band of tissue is being released at the level of the muscle fibers. It is this release of the trigger point that produces the treatment effect we are hopefully aiming for, which might be to reduce pain, improve joint range of motion, or improve muscle strength and function. The entire process takes no more than a few minutes!

There are many conditions that can be treated with dry needling, including: low back pain, neck pain and headaches, rotator cuff tendinopathy, tennis elbow, Achilles tendinitis, patellar tendinitis, iliotibial band syndrome and shin splints.

In addition, people experiencing acute or chronic local muscle pain, referred muscle pain, range of motion restriction or muscle weakness can also benefit from this treatment technique.

It is important to also note that this is not the sole treatment technique used in a physical therapy session. It is part of a multimodal treatment approach, combined with exercise, education and manual therapy. The physical therapist trained in dry needling will help determine whether or not you are an appropriate candidate for this technique after a thorough assessment.

Overall, using this skill in my practice, I have found it to be very effective in producing positive outcomes in many different patient presentations.

So, if you are interested in learning more about this technique and whether or not you are appropriate for it, book an appointment with me, Registered Physiotherapist, Rachel Varga, at Synergy Sports Medicine East on the Danforth by clicking HERE!

Rachel VargaRachel Varga

Physiotherapist – B.A. Hons (Kin), MSc.PT Rachel Varga is a physiotherapist practicing at Synergy Sports Medicine, East End (2017 Danforth Avenue)

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