Dry needling involves inserting a very fine sterile acupuncture needle into the trigger points (hyperirritable spots) of the affected tissue. When trigger points are active within the muscles they can cause motor dysfunction, local tenderness and pain that radiates to other regions of the body.
The needle works to stimulate the nervous system causing it to send messages to the muscles fibres telling them to relax and allow the ‘knots’ to let go and the muscles to return to their resting length.
It is extremely effective for releasing tight tissues, especially those that are too painful to tolerate massage or are within the deeper layer of tissues. This in turn may decrease or eliminate pain, increase blood flow and range of motion at a joint and assist in re-education of neuromuscular patterns
But does it hurt?
As with massage the tighter the soft tissue, the more it needs treatment and the more sensitive the area will be to manual therapies.
Many clients who get regular treatment or are not experiencing severe pain cannot even tell if the needle has been inserted or not.
Certainly if your muscle is tight enough to require dry needling then there is a good chance that it will feel uncomfortable however when compared to the pain that would be experienced via massage in order to achieve the same amazing results needling is a much less painful option.
Another benefit of trying needling as a treatment is that ‘post massage soreness’ often experienced after a deep tissue massage is significantly reduced or eliminated.
Many people will experience muscle twitches when receiving needling-this is painless but may shock some people and occurs as the neural pathways carrying pain signals to the brain are interrupted and the muscle is stimulated to relax.
Massage Vs. needling.
If you wanted to book in for a massage but are curious about the needling there is no need to choose, the needles only stay in for an average of 10-15 seconds and massage is performed before, during and after the application of needles so you will not miss out on hands-on time.
How is it different to acupuncture?
Chinese acupuncture involves the same equipment however during acupuncture the needles are inserted into points on the body where energy of ‘qi” flows and aims to unblock energy channels to affect organs of the body. As stated above dry needling involves placing needles into tight muscles to reduce tight fibers and eliminate pain caused by these knots. Some trigger points do cause referral pain (pain which radiates to other areas of the body) however it focuses purely on pain caused by soft tissue rather than organ dysfunction.