The pain of a tight, knotted muscle may go away on its own. But many patients end up with ongoing pain or pain that’s severe enough to need treatment.
That’s when it’s time to talk with our team at Prolete Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine about the benefits of dry needling.
Don’t let the mention of a needle worry you. This type of needling isn’t the same as getting an injection. Most patients find dry needling easy to tolerate and that it offers much needed relief from knotted muscles or trigger points.
Dry needling explained
Dry needling is a technique for easing muscle pain, relaxing tight muscles, and restoring movement. During dry needling, we insert a special type of needle directly into the targeted area.
The needle disrupts muscle contractions, relaxes the tissues, and subsequently relieves your pain. Dry needling also restores nerve function that was affected by the tight muscle and boosts healing by increasing blood flow to the area.
The needles used during this treatment are specially designed filiform needles. Filiform means threadlike, which accurately describes their qualities. They’re exceptionally thin and slightly tapered at the end. As a result, they easily glide through your skin and into the muscle.
Most patients won’t feel the needle. However, you may feel sensations such as twitching after the needle is in the muscle.
Relaxes trigger points
A trigger point is a small area of knotted fibers that develops when a specific area of your muscle fails to relax. Instead of relaxing, the muscle fibers stay in an ongoing contraction that places pressure on nerves and blood vessels.
Trigger points typically develop when you overuse or strain your muscles. A few of the most common causes include repetitive muscle movements, lifting heavy objects, poor posture, and a muscle injury.
You can also end up with a trigger point if you don’t get enough exercise, you spend a long time sitting, or you’re on bed rest. Without activity, muscles become weak and easily strained. As a result, they’re susceptible to developing trigger points.
No matter what causes your trigger point, dry needling effectively relaxes the muscle and relieves the primary symptom: pain.
Eases trigger point pain
Trigger points are notorious for causing pain. Most people experience intense pain when they touch the knot or use the muscle. The pain can persist even when you rest the muscle.
It’s also common for a trigger point to cause pain that radiates to another part of your body. The combination of pain and muscle tightness often restricts your movement.
As dry needling takes effect, your pain goes away and your range of motion is restored.
Improves chronic pain conditions
Dry needling can also ease chronic pain conditions such as myofascial pain syndrome and fibromyalgia.
Myofascial pain syndrome
You may develop one or a few independent trigger points that relax and heal. By comparison, myofascial pain syndrome occurs when multiple trigger points cause chronic pain.
Myofascial pain syndrome, a common cause of generalized musculoskeletal pain, occurs when trigger points develop in the fascia.
The fascia is a connective tissue that surrounds and holds every muscle, nerve, blood vessel, and organ in your body. It also contains nerves, making it just as sensitive to trigger points as your muscles.
Dry needling relieves chronic myofascial pain in many parts of your body, including your neck, back, and shoulders.
Fibromyalgia is known for two hallmark symptoms: The chronic condition causes widespread pain and tenderness in your muscles and intense fatigue that doesn’t get better with sleep. Most people with fibromyalgia also have trouble concentrating and develop memory problems.
Though trigger points don’t cause fibromyalgia, it’s common for people with the condition to develop trigger points. Dry needling effectively reduces pain and improves other fibromyalgia symptoms.
Patients with fibromyalgia tend to sleep better and regain energy after a dry needling session.
Whether you have a distinct knotted muscle or chronic pain, we can determine if dry needling might help. Call our office in Milford, Connecticut, or book an appointment online today.