What is Trigger Point Dry Needling?
Trigger point dry needling (TPDN) is a treatment for muscle tightness and/or spasm and persistent pain. It can relieve discomfort from a variety of injuries and degenerative processes, including:
- Headaches/low-back pain/neck pain
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder
TPDN is a specialized procedure performed by a trained physical therapist. The procedure involves a inserting a thin, sterile, disposable acupuncture needle into a tender point in the muscle. The needle causes the muscle to contract, then release, improving the flexibility of the muscle and thus decreasing the pain symptoms.
What to expect DURING your TPDN treatment?
Together you and the therapist will identify trigger points in your muscles that may be causing pain. Trigger points, sometimes referred to as “knots,” are tight spots in the muscle that form when the muscle is injured or overworked. The needle is inserted into the tenderest point in the muscle. Typically you will feel a strong ache which lasts from a few seconds to a few minutes. In most circumstances, only one needle is inserted at a time.
What are the risks?
Like any treatment, there are possible complications and while they are rare in occurrence, they are real and must be considered prior to giving consent to treatment. The most serious risk associated with TPDN is accidental puncture of a lung (pneumothorax). This is a rare complication and in skilled hands should not be a concern. Other risks include bruising, infection, and nerve injury.
What to expect AFTER your TPDN treatment?
Following treatment you may feel sore where you were needled. This soreness may occur immediately and remain for several hours after treatment or as long as a few days after. Soreness varies from person to person, but many people compare it to the type of soreness present after a hard workout. Drinking plenty of water and using heat, ice, and/or over the counter anti-inflammatory medications as directed helps to minimize the soreness.
Some people need only one TPDN treatment to gain relief from pain. Others may require several treatments. Your therapist can advise you and answer your questions.