What is Trigger Point Dry Needling?

Oct 17, 2013

Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy

by Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy

Foothills Sports Medicine’s AZ physical therapy practices offer a variety of pain relieving treatment options for patients afflicted with muscle and joint pain. For those experiencing tense, cramped, or chronically aching muscles, trigger point dry needling (TDN) is one of many treatment options worth exploring with your physical therapist.
AZ therapists apply in-depth knowledge of intramuscular dysfunction to the dry needling procedure to identify, target, stimulate and relieve irritated knots, or “trigger points” on the patient’s body.
Trigger Points
A trigger point can be understood as a bundle of muscle that becomes perpetually tense, so tight in fact, that it is prevented from functioning to its full potential.
The tense, irritated muscular bundle sends and receives signals from the central nervous system that generates a form of neurological feedback loop in which muscle irritation, pain, and tension reinforce one another in a cyclical pattern1.
Left untreated, a trigger point can cause mild, moderate, or even severe pain that can restrict a patient’s range of motion and place undue stress on other parts of the body.
TDN Procedure
While most massage techniques place some importance on the alleviation of muscular knots, dry needling treatments apply a more direct approach to relieving myofascial pain.
A TDN procedure is performed when a TDN practitioner inserts a thin, sterilized, filiform needle through the surface of the skin, into the patient’s muscle tissue.
When done properly, the majority of TDN patients report experiencing little, if any acute pain from needle insertion during the procedure.1
The practitioner guides the needle into the irritated area until the tip of the needle reaches the patient’s trigger point.
When the therapist’s needle tip reaches the patient’s trigger point, it is common to observe the affected muscle produce a slight twitch.
These muscle twitches, or “local twitch responses”, signal to TDN practitioners that the needle has made contact with a trigger point and has successfully stimulated the problematic knot.1
Following the completion of a TDN session, patients regularly report reduced or eliminated pain in the affected region, reduced muscular tension, and improved range of motion in the treated muscular region.
Derek Bohlen receiving Trigger Point Dry Needling
Patients suffering from migraines and tension headaches may experience symptom relief through TDN as well.1
Derek Bohlen, a professional golfer and patient at Grayhawk states, “I loved the different methods used by Doug! Foothills really is the best. Here he is taking care of my ankle/leg issues. Something I had never seen before! Awesome stuff!”
How Does TDN Work?
While there is no one conclusive account that explains why TDN successfully alleviates symptoms in patients, one plausible, widely accepted explanation points to the relationship between the central nervous system and myofascial tension:
TDN is thought to effectively interrupt the neurological feedback loop that causes muscle spasms and tension.
If you are experiencing muscle pain, and reside in AZ, physical therapy with Foothills Sports Medicine may be right for you. Contact us to start your recovery today, with one of our professional physical therapists in AZ.
1. APTA – Description of Dry Needling in Clinical Practice

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