What is a trigger point?
Pain can partly be caused and maintained by trigger points or ‘knots’ in a muscle. Trigger points are tender nodules located within a tight band of muscle. They can be painful to touch and can also refer pain. Trigger points can develop in a muscle for many reasons such as; injury, trauma, poor posture, overuse or muscle imbalance.
What is Trigger Point Release?
One treatment option to normalise a trigger point is Trigger Point Release. This is done by maintaining pressure on the tender trigger point, usually with the therapist’s thumb. This may be felt as a dull ache by the patient or may refer pain away from the area being treated. Pressure is maintained on the trigger point until it relaxes under the therapist’s thumb. This is often matched with a patient’s sensation of the muscle ‘letting go’.
What is Trigger Point Dry Needling?
Trigger Point Dry Needling is a follow on from this. It is a procedure whereby a thin sterile needle is inserted into the trigger point in the muscle. The aim is to elicit what is called a Local Twitch Response (LTR). This is felt by the patient as a muscle ‘jump’ or contraction. Facilitating this LTR is important as it has been shown to have both mechanical and biochemical effects, on the patient’s muscle and pain.
How does it work?
Scientific research done on Trigger Point Dry Needling has suggested that this LTR is a spinal cord reflex and facilitating this can help break the pain cycle. Research has also shown that Dry Needling has an effect on improving circulation within the muscle.
Can I benefit from Dry Needling?
If your part of your pain problem is due to tightened muscle, trigger points or myofascial pain then yes you could benefit from Dry Needling. Dry needling can be a very effective treatment option in the management of muscle pain. It is not intended as a stand-alone treatment but rather as a tool to decrease pain and muscle tightness. It is very important that the reasons as to why the trigger points developed are addressed and the appropriate muscles are then strengthened within a functional rehab setting.