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Dry needling therapy: Effective treatment for musculoskeletal pain and how if differs from acupuncture

In this article, I want to answer some frequent questions about trigger point dry needling (TPDN). Dry needling, which is sometimes referred to as trigger point dry needling or 'western acupuncture', is the use of strategically placed, fine acupuncture needles. These thread-like needles are made from stainless steel, are extremely thin and designed with a fine tapered point to reduce pain on insertion. At Koru Massage Therapies, I use the best quality and finest gauge to allow for a comfortable dry needling experience. There is a significant difference between acupuncture and TPDN. Traditional acupuncture is used to diagnose and treat disease or ailments. Needles are inserted into points along a median line that is related to a specific organ in the body, which is based on traditional Chinese medicine. The principle is to restore and balance Qi (energy) that flows through the body and is used to treat an array of internal ailments by treating the cause not the symptom. This practise has been used in China for 1000`s of years. During an acupuncture session, needles are inserted and left for 20-40 minutes depending on the desired outcome of the treatment. In contrast, TPDN is a new procedure compared with acupuncture and is based on modern western medical and is used to treat muscle pain and dysfunction caused by myofascial trigger points (MTP). It is not intended to treat Qi, internal organs or diagnose, it is used specifically for pain management and injury rehabilitation.

Needles are inserted into myofascial trigger points (MTP), which are tight, taut bands of muscle or fascia that produce referred pain. This pain radiates in a typical distribution pattern specific to the muscle where the MTP is located. MTP are commonly caused by muscle sprain due to overloading, a gradual increase in muscle tension due to posture or from direct trauma. Symptoms will include pain, pain aggravated by heat or cold, a deep dull ache that is hard to locate, joint stiffness, tenderness, sleep disturbance and pain on palpation of the MTP. These tight bands of muscle tissue can only be located by palpation and will reproduce the pain complaint.

The effects of dry needling will allow the MTP to relax upon needling and once the needle/s are inserted into the correct MTP they are left for seven minutes. The result is decreased irritability or complete removal of the MTP and removal of its referred pain pattern, resulting in less or no pain.

During the TPDN session an initial thorough consultation will be conducted to rule out any contraindications, safety considerations are always taken seriously, and risk is mitigated. This will ensure it is the right treatment for the patient. The needles are sterile, disposable, and single use, there are no serious adverse reactions to this treatment when a trained and skilled practitioner performs it. Feedback is important during the treatment to ensure patient comfort and patients are never left alone. Minor events such as minute bleeding and bruising can occur in seven per cent of treatments. Post-treatment symptoms that may occur include fatigue, light-headedness, mild bruising, and temporary aggravation of symptoms which normally last up to 12 hours.

TPDN is a safe and highly effective treatment that Koru massage is proud to offer its clients. Used in conjunction with remedial massage, myofascial cupping and Neurokinetic therapy, the positive results gained in injury rehabilitation with TPDN have helped patients with back pain, neck pain, muscle spasms, chronic injuries, and many other painful conditions.

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