Spotlight on Techniques – Myofascial Dry Needling.
Myofascial Dry Needling – or MDN – is quite popular, but while it’s not always for everybody some people find it can produce great results very quickly. Many confuse it with Acupuncture, but the philosophies behind the 2 techniques are quite different. Acupuncture has its grounding in Traditional Chinese Medicine and is based on stimulating the flow of the Energy Meridians (or Qi flow) – whereas MDN has a stronger connection to Anatomy and Trigger Points. Jacob has recently completed his qualification in MDN, and he has written an article to explain more about how MDN works to help demystify the topic.
3 ways Dry Needling works
Before we jump ‘knee-deep’ into the technical stuff on dry needling, it is important to first understand what a trigger point is. A trigger point is a small amount of fibres in a muscle that remain contracted while the rest of the muscle is relaxed, and it can cause hyper irritability, pain, reduced strength, etc. I like to explain it by likening a Trigger Point to a knot in a piece of rope. The knot shortens the length of the rope preventing it from being able to function as it needs to, leaving the rope under tension and stress … much like a tight muscle.
To release muscular tensions and Trigger Points we have several options to choose from. General massage techniques (like trigger point therapy) involves a sustained pressure on the trigger point, usually applied through a thumb or elbow, and frequently stimulating reasonable discomfort in a recognised Pain Referral Pattern as the point releases.
MDN is often explained as a much less painful technique for releasing Trigger Points, with faster results (80% of clients have great results), but the confronting thought of having needles piercing the skin means for some it just isn’t an option.
But let’s talk about why it works because we all know that’s what you really want to know.
It Stimulates the Nerve …
We have already discussed trigger points and how they can feel hyper-irritable – generally achy in a recognised referral pattern, mildly restricting the action of the muscle, but hyper-irritable (or really sore) when pressure is applied during treatment. A big thing with most dysfunction in the body is Compensation Patterns, or the way your body adapts to live with pain & dysfunction … if you are sore or injured in one area, other areas work harder to compensate and keep you functioning. A recognised result of compensation is the development of multiple areas of tension and increased potential for multiple trigger points to develop. Your brain is then receiving messages from too many places at once.
When a needle is inserted into a trigger point, we can effectively increase the signal of an already irritated nerve which helps your brain pinpoint the nerve and “reset” it, releasing the trigger point.
It Stretches the local muscle fibres …
We have all had tight muscles and stretched to improve their flexibility and function … well at least that is a common piece of self-care handed out freely to the willing … With MDN we can do the same thing but on a much smaller scale.
Once the needle has entered the muscle tissue collagen can from around it. When we twist the needle, we create a mild, local stretch in the fibres surrounding the needle – which in turn acts to release the local muscle tissue and release the trigger point. It works like any other stretch, but it is very focused on the specific area of tension and pain and can achieve great results.
The Chemical Jargon … for the Left Brainers among us
This is where the blog gets technical but if you want or need a deeper understanding please read on.
Chemistry drives all muscle contractions throughout our bodies – most often there is good/functional balance, but of course imbalance can happen and cause muscular tension – either locally or broadly – which can lead to achy pain and formation of trigger points. Trigger points can cause a concentration of chemicals such as CGRP, substance P, serotonin, interleukins, and epinephrine.
This causes local vasodilation and pain which prolongs the release of a chemical called Acetylcholine which will sustain the muscle contraction (Trigger point).
The twitch response achieved from effective MDN immediately interacts with the local chemistry of the target muscle tissue, instigating a drop in all these chemicals which will once again relax the muscle.
“With all three of these methods happening at the same time, it’s no wonder dry needling is so effective and so popular.” Of course, it is very challenging to say everything – and provide all the information everyone wants – in an online Blog, so if you would like to understand more about MDN please come and chat with Jacob.
Jacob is our resident MDN Therapist here at HANDS from HEAVEN, and currently the only member of our team who has formally qualified to provide MDN Treatments. He is best placed to answer any of your questions – and more importantly, Jacob is the man you will need to see if you would like MDN as part of your treatment.