Dry Needling

     The practice of Dry Needling (DN) is utilized by physical therapists to assist with pain control. DN has been around for decades and continues to improve the neurophysiological response of muscles to assist in creating improved recruitment and function. This treatment is becoming one of the most effective additions to current rehabilitation programs.  The APTA (American Physical Therapy Association) states DN is a skilled intervention that uses a thin filiform needle to penetrate the skin and stimulate underlying myofascial trigger points, muscular, and connective tissues for the management of neuromusculoskeletal pain and dysfunctional movements. 

     MTP Model (Myofascial Trigger Point): Dry Needling is used primarily in the treatment of myosfascial trigger points (MTrPs) defined as “hyperirritable spots in skeletal muscle associated with hypersensitive palpable nodules in a taut band.” The Local Twitch Response (LTR) is an involuntary spinal reflex contraction of muscle fibers within a taut band during needling.

     It is a technique utilized to treat the neuromusculoskeletal systems based on pain patterns, muscular dysfunction, and other orthopedic signs and symptoms.  The advancements in dry needling has led to different clinical reasoning models including the myofascial trigger point model, the radiculopathy model and the spinal segmental sensitization model, all which are used to treat the presence of pain or dysfunction. 

     The primary goal of Dry Needling is to cause a change in a muscle which may be a sensitized structure or to restore motion and function by activating tissue that has been dysfunctional. Dry Needling must first have a comprehensive evaluation, physical examination and assessment to guide the treatment.  This allows the clinician to test and re-test after a Dry Needling treatment has been performed. It gives the clinician the opportunity to real time objective changes pre and post treatment.

     The history of Dry Needling dates to the 1940’s with Dr. Janet Travell. She identified the muscular trigger points and referral patterns that were elicited with the “wet needling.” Later, she discovered that “Dry Needling” offered the same results. This was groundbreaking work and hence she created the name “Dry Needling.”


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