Private: What is Trigger Point Dry Needling?

Trigger point dry needling (TDN) is an extremely effective technique that uses a very fine mono filament needle to "de-activate" or "shut down" painful and knotted areas in your muscles. Many of us have areas in our body that chronically feel tense, that are painful and feel like a hard ball when being touched. By inserting a thin needle into these contracture knots, we try to elicit a "twitch response" or a brief contraction (lasting less than a second) which causes the muscle to get rid of inflammatory products (such as lactic acid) and allows for a long-lasting relaxation of the muscle. Because the needle can treat very deep parts of the muscle very specifically, the technique can achieve amazing pain relief and improve muscle function.

dry needling NPTBlog

At Fyzical Therapy & Balance Centers of Naperville we use TDN every day to:

  • Provide long-lasting pain relief from head to toe
  • Eliminate muscle tension
  • Help muscles heal after injuries
  • Improve blood flow at a deep level
  • Speed healing and recovery time after injury
  • Improve range of motion and flexibility
  • Stimulate a muscle to work better
  • Prevent future injuries from occurring
  • Get people back to exercise and activities of daily living ASAP

Will TDN Help Me?

Does a massage give you relief but it doesn't last as long as you would like? People who respond well to massage, but are disappointed when the discomfort returns, often find that TDN can offer them a longer-lasting pain relief. TDN works very well for people with acute injuries as well as chronic overuse and sports injuries. We can treat nearly any muscle in the body from head to toe with greater specificity and at greater depths than is possible with other types of body work. TDN can be very effective in treating headaches related to muscle tension. TDN is not appropriate for treating swelling in a muscle as result of an acute injury when bruising is present. A physical therapy evaluation will help to determine if TDN can be indicated for you to help you with your recovery.

Does The Needle Hurt?

Because the needles are very thin and solid, they don't hurt as they pass through the skin like a hollow (much thicker) injection needle does. The sensations people report from the desirable twitch response of the muscle tissue are "deep aching", "electrical", "pressure", "releasing", "blood flow" or "soreness". The procedure is brief and the needle is left in for a short period of time, just long enough to get the muscle to twitch and to relax. TDN can be performed at various trigger points in the same muscle or in multiple muscles during one session, depending on your response. Because we treat sensitive areas that have been tight (sometimes for a long time), there is some discomfort. However, most patients experience that short-term discomfort is well worth tolerating considering the long-term relief TDN provides.

How Many Needles Will I Need?

We will start very slowly during the first session to give you a feel for the technique. The first session will focus on one or a few muscles that are key to your problem. Treating these key areas can give you excellent relief and result in less soreness and an improvement in flexibility. Subsequent sessions can also treat other areas related to your problem. It is not uncommon to find tightness in other muscles due to compensation patterns. Sessions are usually 3-5 days apart and you should feel a marked difference after 1-3 sessions.

How Will I Feel Immediately After TDN?

You will know if a positive change has occurred right after the session, because you can expect to feel some soreness similar to how you would feel after working out your muscles with weight resistance. The muscle will feel fatigued and the soreness can last from a few hours to 1-2 days, but should not interfere with your everyday activities. We encourage you to be active during this time to keep the soreness to a minimum. You can also use some heat or ice to temporarily alleviate the soreness. After a day or so, you will experience a new feeling of less pain and improved flexibility. The chronic injury you thought was here to stay will actually start to improve.

TDN should be performed by a qualified health care professional. Ben Grotenhuis, PT, CMTPT, FAAOMPT has received extensive post-graduate training in TDN. He has been using TDN as part of his daily physical therapy practice since 2010.