Needling @ Trayah
The Art Of Dry Needling
Dry needling focusses on myofascial trigger points (knotted muscles) and involves the insertion of fine needles into these areas in the muscle or fascia that are in dysfunction. Targeting these myofascial trigger points is a science-based treatment that can assist in lowering pain/discomfort, reducing muscle tension and increasing joint range of motion caused by a variety of musculoskeletal conditions. It is a treatment based on Western Anatomical and Neurophysiological Principles. It is different from acupuncture.
A myofascial trigger point is a group of muscle fibres which have not extended to a relaxed state following contraction. They form a “knot” in the muscle which is often sensitive and can cause referred pain elsewhere in the body. The knot is unable to move normally with the rest of the muscle. Blood flow and nutrients to the area are restricted and, as a result, there is a build-up of toxins. This, coupled with the muscles surrounding the knot tightening to compensate for muscle restriction, can cause pain and discomfort on touching, stretching and moving. Joint range of motion can also be decreased as a result leading to further postural problems as the body adjusts to try and remain pain free.
These knots can be caused by muscle overuse, trauma/injury or stress. Often sustained repetitive activity including prolonged sitting, lifting heavy objects and working at a desk can cause them. Other contributing factors can be quick movements, nerve impingement and general illness in the body.
There are different forms of dry needling ranging from the superficial, gentle type to electro stimulation dry needling (my particular favourite) to the more intense method of achieving an exceptionally strong local twitch response. The type used is specific to you, your expectations, any fears you may have and your presenting problem.
How Can Dry Needling Help Me?
Sometimes specific issues can take too long or, worse, not respond as well to tissue manipulation (massage) alone. It may be that as part of your treatment you may benefit from dry needling which can work more deeply and speed up your healing process, compliment massage techniques and potentially reduce your time in treatment (dependent upon the issue).
Dry needling can help to treat many conditions including, but certainly not limited to:
Carpal tunnel syndrome
Lower back pain
Tight muscles causing pain and reduced range of motion
How Does It Work?
Dry needling works in two ways:
As a result of the needle penetrating the skin, the brain immediately goes into overdrive, protecting the body from what it believes to be damage. This triggers the body’s natural inflammatory process with chemicals being released which create increased blood flow to the area where the needle was/is inserted. With this increased blood flow healthy nutrients, oxygen and cells are despatched immediately to the area. As soon as the needle is removed, tissue repair starts – but (and here’s the clever bit!), not only to the insertion site, but to the problematic myofascial trigger point we’re trying to heal! Follow this with a gentle massage and stretch to elongate those contracted muscles and trigger points and you have a win/win situation. A good reaction will show a redness around the insertion site (erythema) and an itchy/tingling sensation (histamine).
As the needle insertion is causing mild tissue damage, other chemicals are released by the brain which then stimulate the release of opiods in the system – including endorphins. This leads to the activation of the body’s natural pain inhibitory mechanism which slow down the transmission of pain signals. As a result, pain felt from the myofascial trigger point is reduced or eliminated.
The ideal time to leave needles in to gain maximum benefit, according to research, is 15-20 minutes.
Dry Needling Side Effects
Dry needling MAY produce slight side-effects for a short while after treatment. If these do occur – they are most often mild and include:
Drowsiness, tiredness, relaxation, euphoria, increased energy and/or dizziness.
A small amount of bleeding and/or bruising around the insertion site upon the removal of the needle.
Discomfort, muscle soreness immediately after your treatment, but it should wear off shortly after.
Temporary aggravation of presenting symptoms followed by improvement (usually the following day)
Fainting may occur in some patients, most commonly during the first treatment session and due to needle anxiety.
Pneumothorax (collapsed lung) is an exceptionally rare but very serious potential side effect of the treatment and can generally be avoided by ensuring your therapist is properly qualified (like at Trayah).
Following thorough assessments, an explanation of dry needling and your obtained consent being obtained, dry needling can be performed (if appropriate). It may be that you are then asked to book a specific dry needling appointment. If time allows, it will be incorporated into the same appointment.
Treatment will be totally bespoke, and communication throughout will be maintained to ensure your comfort and safety. Up to 20 needles can be inserted dependent upon the desired outcome and presenting condition and they may be removed instantly or left in for up to 20 minutes. Needling will always be followed by a light remedial massage and gentle stretching to maximise effects of treatment.
There are a few recommendations around aftercare to ensure you maximise the effects of the treatment, minimising the risk of agitating the areas where the needling has occurred.
It is highly recommended that you increase water intake in the 24 hours following your treatment. Water is a natural way to help avoid or reduce soreness and swelling in the body. It’s also advisable to avoid alcohol for 48 hours following your treatment. You may feel tender or sore following your treatment – this usually disappears after a short time.
You are able to continue to work out and stretch as normal, just try not to over-exert yourself and avoid strenuous activity to the areas that have received the dry needling treatment. It is not advisable to try out any new physical activities or sports or do anything more than your usual exercise routine.
As much as I try to tailor your treatment to your body, there is always the chance that you are suited to a different type of therapy, as with every health treatment.
If this is the case, I will be more than happy to recommend you to another specialist/practitioner. My number one priority is your health and your improvement. I also work closely with fantastic exercise physiologists, PTs, chiropractors and physios and, if you need it, I can enlist their support for you.
This is the Trayah difference. I care about you and your health above all else!