Dry Needling: How Does Dry Needling Work?

By James Cleal

Research has shown that chemicals in our body associated with pain, inflammation and communication between cells are elevated in and around areas of trigger points.

Essentially the muscle has become overactive and in a state of stress. Trigger points were traditionally treated with pain relief injections directly into the painful area of muscle.

 

DISCOVERY OF DRY NEEDLING

Dry needling for trigger point therapy was first introduced in 1979 when it was realised that the response to pain relief injections was not a result of the pain relief medication being delivered.

It didn’t matter what was being injection into a trigger point, the reduction in pain seemed consistent.

What was delivering the results was the insertion of the needle itself.

 

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU HAVE DRY NEEDLING?

Needle insertion triggers a local twitch response which is an involuntary reflex in the muscle fibres which have become contracted and taut.

This “twitch” in effect is the trigger point short circuiting and switching off, kind of like hitting the reset switch on your computer when it becomes slow and buggy.

This allows the muscle fibres to reset and operate more normally contracting and relaxing as they should.

 

WHAT ARE THE EFFECTS OF DRY NEEDLING?

Evidence also shows that when a needle is inserted, the area around the needle becomes stimulated to release cytokines and trigger the release of natural opioids (Beta-endorphin and Enkephalins).

This is your body’s own natural pain relief and anti-inflammatory system which have a flow on effect in other areas of the body leading to the release of white blood cells and antibodies responsible for dealing with infections.

Research has shown that dry needling improves pain, reduces muscle tension, restores normal biochemical and electrical function within the muscle and facilitates an accelerated return to rehabilitation exercise.

So you can see the effects of dry needling go far beyond just fixing tight sore muscles.

Dry needling will enable a faster return to strengthening and exercise resulting in improved function and performance.