Myofascial Dry Needling (MDN)

This modality involves the use of acupuncture needles (dry needling is NOT acupuncture) for treating pain and dysfunction in the body’s myofascial system (muscles and fascia). Typically, the needles are used to eliminate myofascial trigger points that are associated with Myofascial Pain Syndrome. 

The exact mechanisms of dry needling are complex and not fully known. However, there is a growing body of scientific evidence that supports the positive effect inserting a needle has on the electrical and chemical communications that take place in our nervous system. These include inhibiting the transmission of pain signals in our spinal cord and increasing the release of our own pain relieving chemicals within our brains. The pain relieving effect of dry needling is gaining strong support in mainstream Western medicine, with public hospital systems now directly funding its use. ( http://www.sportandspinalphysio.com.au/your-top-6-dry-needling-acupuncture-questions-answered/ )

Dry needling uses a very fine, solid filament needle to cause a small, precise injury or “lesion” in the tissue when it enters the body. The tiny needle induces injury signals the brain uses to initiate a sequence of events to replace or repair the damaged tissue with new, healthy tissue. Needling in a painful ‘trigger point’ or muscular knot frequently provokes a “twitch” response from the muscle. This is both diagnostic as well as therapeutic, because healthy muscle tissue will not “twitch” when stimulated by the needle. Once a “twitch” response has been elicited, the muscle fibers in that area relax, ‘inflammation’ is reduced and circulation improves. As a result of these physiologic processes, dry needling can purposely address muscle, tendon and myofascial pain and dysfunction.

Theory A
1. Something causes pain, if it happens often enough or if the trauma is great enough, the pain signal may return and activate special pain receptors, which will feedback to the spinal cord. This will cause pain to continue instead of fade and is called a ‘Reflex Arc’.
2. At the same time motor neurones may become stuck in a feedback loop/reflex arc, facilitating muscle spasm. In some cases the reflex arc continues for years, even decades.
3. Introducing a new stimulus (i.e. the needle) impedes the reflex arc and has the effect of relaxing the muscle.

Theory B
1. A muscle in constant spasm becomes a damaged muscle. Spasm reduces blood flow in the muscle. This means less oxygen and nutrients to the muscle. Muscle fibres die off and get replaced by fibrous scar tissue. This in turn holds the muscle tense, prevents muscle metabolites from leaving the muscle and causes continued spasm and pain.
2. Putting a needle into an active trigger point within the muscle causes the muscle to relax; this can be seen with an electromyogram (EMG).

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