About Trigger Point Dry Needling

Trigger Point Dry Needling (TDN) is a technique used to treat active trigger points and deep muscle tension called motor banding in muscles that have been injured and sensitized. The technique has been adapted from Intramuscular Stimulation (IMS) taught by Chan Gunn MD through the British Columbia College of Physiotherapists and the trigger point dry needling program taught through Pain and Rehabilitation of Bethesda, Maryland. TDN is based upon the work of Janet Travell MD and David Simons MD that initially diagnosed and mapped out referral patterns of trigger points.

Post injury, muscles often shorten and become sensitized at or near the injury site. Untreated this area of shortening can become a trigger point or an area of motorbanding commonly known as a knot. The resultant shortening of the muscle fibers can create compression on the structures around them such as nerves, joints or within the muscle itself. This creates an abnormal or hypersensitive “feedback loop” within the nervous system and is interpreted by the body as an area of tightness or cramping in the muscles. The body as pain and or an area of tightness interprets the hypersensitivity that results in the nerve endings.

TDN is very effective at releasing these trigger points and motor banding regions within a muscle or an area surrounding a joint. TDN utilizes a traditional acupuncture needle to release the muscular banding; often you will feel the muscle winding or grasping around the needle and then feel a release. The acupuncture needle essentially desensitizes the feedback loop that has occurred in the body. The result is that the muscle and nerve endings are no longer irritated and this fosters healing. TDN combined with appropriate soft tissue and joint mobilization, and a comprehensive home exercise program often returns patients to their previous pre-injury levels.

Several questions have arisen regarding TDN, Is it safe? Is it acupuncture? How often can I be treated, What should I expect after treatment?

Is it safe? TDN is safe, the needles are sterilized and brand new, they are never reused. All practitioners are required to demonstrate proficiency in manual therapy prior to taking the course. TDN practitioners are required to demonstrate safe and effective treatment technique for certification.

Is it acupuncture? TDN is not acupuncture, the goal of the treatment is to treat motor banding and trigger points in the body. TDN does not address meridian points or chi in the body. This treatment is not intended to replace acupuncture.

How often can I be treated? We usually recommend that you start with one treatment session a week. Patients who tolerate this treatment sequencing may elect to treat two times a week with at least two days apart.

What should I expect after treatment? Patients may have post treatment soreness and occasional bruising. The post treatment soreness can last from 24 to 48 hours initially and each subsequent treatment the soreness is generally a shorter duration.