At one point during the Bike and Brew festival, a lovely announcer featured our clinic. I was happy about that until I heard her say:
“At ALTA Physical Therapy, they do needling, which is the single most painful experience I have ever had.” Just. Great.
This was not exactly what we wanted to convey about Trigger Point Dry Needling (TDN). Nor is it true for most people. But, that might be the word on the street.
So it’s time to describe TDN, how it works and why experiences vary so much between patients.
The American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Therapists says this about TDN: Dry Needling is a neurophysiological evidence-based treatment that decreases pain, reduces muscle tension, normalizes biochemical and electrical dysfunction of motor endplates, and facilitates an accelerated return to active rehabilitation.
What they meant was this: you could get better faster. Here’s why:
Muscles get tight for several possible reasons:
- You pull or strain a muscle and it tightens as a result (protective response).
- A series of micro traumas create small tears that, over time, cause muscles to lose flexibility.
- A tight muscle pulls on the tendon, compresses the bursa and perpetuates the problem.
- You are a “tension head” and that tension goes right to your upper traps or lower back or some other muscle.
Being tense influences both the central nervous system (brain) and the peripheral nerves that go to the body. Those hyperactive nerves tighten muscles and compress joints. Muscle tightness further compresses the joint and you have a vicious cycle of tightness, joint pain and nerve irritation.