Acupuncture — Dry Needling, What is it?

Posted on: March 11th, 2014 by SMIWebAdmin


Dry Needling, What is it?   

We’ve recently received a number of inquires about “Dry Needling” and whether or not this is a service SMI offers. The short answer is YES.

Dry needling developed as a derivation of Trigger Point Injection’s (TPI’s) were pioneered by doctors Janet Travell and David Simons as a way to treat Trigger Points (TrP’s). A trigger point is defined as “a hyperirritable spot in skeletal muscle that is associated with a palpable nodule in a taut band of muscle fiber.”[1] Trigger points can result in a decrease in flexibility, a decrease in strength and pain both locally and referred to other areas. As many of you know, treating TrP’s is one of the things that we specialize in here at SMI. Some of you are intimately familiar with the pain caused by an SMI therapist pressing down with a thumb or elbow into a knotted band of tight muscle tissue. The manual therapy techniques practiced at SMI are often times very effective for treating TrP’s. TPI’s, including dry needling, are another effective form of treatment.

Originally, Trigger Point Injection’s were performed by injecting a substance such as saline, lidocaine, cortisone or botox via a hypodermic syringe directly into a painful trigger point. Dry needling was a derivation of a TPI where a syringe would be inserted into a trigger point but nothing would actually be injected. Eventually, acupuncture needles began to be substituted for the syringe altogether.

We have discovered that sometimes people respond better to manual therapy and sometimes they respond better to alternate methods such as TPI’s. When a client is hypersensitive, in a more acute state or the trigger point is particularly stubborn, TPI’s can be very effective.

It turns out, 92% of the 255 Trigger Points documented by Travell and Simons actually correspond to classical acupuncture points that were identified over 4000 years ago. Pretty fascinating! Acupuncturists are particularly skilled at finding TrP’s. And combining traditional acupuncture techniques with the treatment of TrP’s can offer a very effective treatment protocol. Here at SMI our staff acupuncturist, Colleen Burke, L.Ac., works directly with our orthopedic massage therapists to offer the best possible treatment options.

If you have questions about dry needling, acupuncture or Trigger Points in general please don’t hesitate to contact us!

1. Travell, Janet; Simons David; Simons Lois (1999). Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction:The Trigger Point Manual (2 vol. set, 2nd Ed.). USA: Lippincott 
Williams & Williams. ISBN 0­683­08363­5. 
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