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What is dry needling and how is different to acupuncture?

Acupuncture is basically the practice of inserting needles into the body at specific points to reduce pain. A particular distinction between dry needling and acupuncture is that dry needling does not involve the traditional concepts of Yin and Yang. Dry needling purely addresses the neuromuscular dysfunction via myofascial trigger points (muscle knots) or non-myofascial trigger points to address pain.


What is a trigger point?

The inside of the body is covered with soft tissue called fascia. This tissue covers organs, muscles, nerves and blood vessels. The fascia that covers your muscles is call myofascial. When the myofascia is stressed from overuse or trauma it can tear and adhere together. These adhesions are called “trigger points” and can prevent the muscles from working well. Trigger points lead to an increase in muscle stiffness and tenderness and a decrease in range-of-motion.


How does dry needling work?

The exact mechanisms aren’t fully understood. However, there is growing evidence to suggest that dry needling can work to inhibit the transmission of pain signals throughout the nervous system and cause the release of pain inhibiting chemicals in our brain.


What can I expect to feel?

Generally dry needling is pain free however, if there is a local twitch response elicited from the needle there may be a temporary feeling of pain. It is also common to feel muscle soreness for the next 24-48 hours post needling.


Is dry needling for me?

Dry needling can be quite effective in relieving pain but doesn’t necessarily address the cause of the pain. Dry needling can be used as an effective tool to facilitate a pain free movement to enable you to conduct your rehab program more effectively.


Can I exercise after dry needling?

Yes it is safe to exercise post dry needling. However, if you are experiencing muscle soreness a lighter form of exercises such as walking would be preferred.


If you are experiencing pain or dysfunction you may benefit from dry needling. All of our experienced Physiotherapists at Chelsea Longbeach Physiotherapy are certified to practice dry needling and may be able to help with your pain.

Declan McNamara, Physiotherapist

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