What is Dry Needling?

Dry needling is a type of needling techniques for treating muscular pain or symptoms related to myofascial dysfunction. It is also commonly known as myofascial trigger point dry needling. Dry needling technique utilises solid filiform needles instead of hollow-core needles (syringe needles).


Types of needling techniques

There are three main needling categories: traditional Chinese medicine acupuncture (TCM), western acupuncture and dry needling.  The key differences between these three needling techniques lie in their philosophy behind the techniques and the application method. For example TCM acupuncture utilises the oriental paradigm which includes the understanding of meridian points and meridian lines; whereas western acupuncture is an adaptation of the TCM acupuncture using the knowledge of human anatomy, physiology and pathology. In contrast to the above two techniques, dry needling focus on releasing the tension on a muscle based on human anatomy knowledge.      


What is a myofascial trigger point?

Myofascial trigger point is a hyperirritable spot located in skeletal muscle fibres or the surrounding fascia. It is often a palpable nodule formed by the taut bands of the muscle fibres. These trigger points are commonly described as tight and sore spots along a muscle. Direct compression to these trigger points was found to reduce the tension of the muscle and relieve the associated pain, this is a common technique in trigger point therapy.


Myofascial trigger point therapy versus myofascial trigger point dry needling

In typical trigger point therapy the treatment process is often more painful than painless due to the application method. Usually the trigger point related pain will increase until plateau before it starts to fade away. Instead, myofascial trigger point dry needling provides a relatively pain free, minimally discomfort and effective way of treatment to musculoskeletal pain disorders. The advantage of using needles is more prominent when dealing with very irritable trigger points or deep tissues. This is primarily due to the utilisation of the very fine needles, absence of large compressive force and versatility of the application techniques. For example superficial needling for very irritable trigger points and deep needling for deeper tissues.


Treatment effect

The length of needling time and frequency required varied depends on the types of dysfunction and chronicity of the problem. In essence, there should be positive changes in different elements, such as pain levels, range of movement and strength immediately after needling. If any of the above expectation is not met then dry needling is not the right treatment for the specific problem. In our experience when applying dry needling for the appropriate reasons, we see a significant positive effect in our patients.  


Conditions Treated

Needling has been found effective for a wide variety of musculoskeletal conditions, including neck and shoulder pain, muscle strains/tears, back pain, and patella femoral pain syndrome to name a few. 

If you have any questions regarding weather dry needling can benefit you, or were interested in giving it a test drive, feel free to call us.  Here at Thornleigh Performance Physiotherapy, we can give you an accurate diagnosis and treatment, as well as advice on the best course of action for your condition to get you back in action sooner than you could’ve imagined.  We have an expertise in musculoskeletal physiotherapy and are conveniently located near Beecroft, Cherrybrook, Hornsby, Normanhurst, Pennant Hills, Wahroonga, Westleigh, West Pennant Hills, and West Pymble. So give one of our physiotherapists a call on (02) 8411 2050 to get started on a journey to a better you.