Knotted muscles, also called trigger points, can turn into a constant source of pain that goes beyond the knot. Touching the trigger point often causes pain in other parts of your body.
As long as the trigger point exists, it keeps activating nerves and sending pain messages to your brain. This ongoing stimulation makes nerves more sensitive, which in turn leads to more trigger point pain.
Dry needling is one of the best ways to break the cycle of trigger point pain. While easing your pain is a priority, it’s not the only reason Prolete Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine specializes in dry needling. Read on to learn about trigger points and the top four benefits of dry needling.
Trigger point basics
A trigger point is a small area of tightly knotted muscle fibers. These knots develop when the muscle contracts and then doesn’t relax. In addition to creating a painful, hard, knot, the ongoing muscle contraction also pinches your nerves and blood vessels.
So, what causes a trigger point? These knots often develop due to:
- Repetitive muscle movements
- Lifting heavy weights or objects
- Direct injury
- Poor posture
- Tense muscles
- Chronic stress
Though knotted muscles commonly occur while you’re using your muscles, they can also develop from a lack of exercise, prolonged sitting, or time spent on bed rest. Without exercise, your muscles weaken and become more susceptible to developing a trigger point.
Four benefits of dry needling
Inserting an acupuncture-like needle into the trigger point relaxes the muscles, boosts blood flow, diminishes inflammation, and triggers a healing response. This treatment also improves nerve communication and activates the release of your body’s natural pain relievers.
The activities sparked by dry needling result in four benefits:
Get fast pain relief
Most people associate trigger points with knotted muscles in their shoulder, upper back, and neck. But the same problem can arise in any part of your body and be associated with many conditions, from low back and neck pain to joint pain and overuse injuries.
Your pain improves as the knot relaxes and blood flow improves. Better circulation means that painful, acidic wastes get carried away while your muscles receive the oxygen and nutrients they need to heal.
Many patients experience an immediate reduction in local and widespread pain after one dry needling session. Others may need several sessions to achieve optimum pain relief. Your treatment plan depends on the severity and number of trigger points.
Regain your range of motion
Few things stop you from moving like tight, painful muscles. If you have multiple trigger points, you may experience severely limited mobility. And when you’re not active, your muscles weaken and lose mass.
We often combine dry needling with a physical therapy program to rebuild your strength and fully restore your range of motion. Physical therapy also retrains your muscles, and this helps to prevent future trigger points.
Accelerate your recovery
Whether you suffered an injury or had surgery, moving your body is the best way to promote healing and speed up your recovery. Physical therapy is the primary treatment during your recovery. However, adding dry needling to physical therapy accelerates the process.
Improve chronic pain conditions
Dry needling goes a long way toward easing two chronic pain conditions, myofascial pain syndrome and fibromyalgia.
Myofascial pain syndrome occurs when trigger points develop in the fascia, a sheet of connective tissue that surrounds and supports all your muscles, nerves, blood vessels, and organs. Dry needling and physical therapy are among the best treatments for this chronic pain condition.
Fibromyalgia causes widespread pain and tenderness in your muscles. The pain affects the way you move, which in turn leads to trigger points. Patients who have fibromyalgia and get dry needling often experience significant improvement in their overall pain.
To learn if dry needling can help you, call Prolete Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine or book an appointment online today.