What is trigger point dry needling?  

A myofascial trigger point is a taut band of skeletal muscle.  These rope-like knots may cause acute or chronic pain, muscle weakness, restricted mobility, and limited function. Although this advanced treatment technique utilizes a solid monofilament needle, trigger point dry needling is not acupuncture.  Dry needling is based on the Western medical model and numerous scientific studies demonstrate its efficacy.  Trigger point dry needling involves inserting an acupuncture needle directly into the involved myofascial trigger point (s).  A local twitch response is elicited that facilitates relaxation of the involved musculature.  As the patient’s soft tissue becomes more mobile, referred pain from the associated trigger point typically decreases.  In addition, strength, range of motion, and function improves.

How did trigger point dry needling originate?

The current buzz in the treatment of myofascial pain is trigger point dry needling.  However, it has been around since 1979.  Dr. Janet Travell, the personal physician of President John F. Kennedy, discovered that muscles can refer pain in a similar manner to a herniated disc or other anatomical structures.  Intrigued by her initial findings, she and Dr. David Simons mapped out the referral pattern of every skeletal muscle in the human body.  

Dr. Karel Lewit, a neurologist from the Czech Republic, performed trigger point injections utilizing the work of Dr. Janet Travell with great success.  He selected various steroids to inject into muscles based on certain parameters.  Interestingly enough, his patients improved independent of the specific medication.  As a result, he believed that the needle penetrating the trigger point provided pain relief.  To test his hypothesis, he performed trigger point injections without medication and his patients improved at the same rate.

What is the recovery process following treatment?

Individuals who have received trigger point dry needling should consult with their practitioner for specific post-needling instructions.  Muscle soreness varies from a few hours to a few days following trigger point dry needling.  Proper purposeful movement should aid in muscle recovery.  Typically, it is important to complete mobility exercises given by your healthcare provider.  Additionally, the practitioner may utilize manual therapy techniques, therapeutic exercise, and neuromuscular re-education before or after the procedure to improve post-needling soreness, mobility, and function.

Can dry needling help me?

Research has shown that trigger point dry needling can be an effective technique for decreasing pain and increasing function in people with acute and chronic pain.  Patient populations that can benefit include those suffering with tendonitis, muscles strains, cervical and lumbar herniated discs, arthritis and other joint disorders, temporomandibular disorder, fibromyalgia, whiplash, headache, and a host of other neuromusculoskeletal conditions.


If you have any additional questions, feel free to contact us.