Dry needling is an emerging physical therapy practice that enables deep treatment of certain injuries to the muscles, tendons and ligaments. Although it is not well known, dry needling has been used in physical therapy for almost 13 years in Quebec.
Traditional Chinese acupuncture is a facet of Chinese medicine, a therapeutic technique based on a preliminary energy balance assessment. In acupuncture, needles are used to stimulate specific areas on the skin (acupuncture points, meridians, etc.) according to Oriental medicine practices to, among other things, restore the patient’s energy balance. Many acupuncturists also use puncture techniques related to dry needling directly at the site of an injury.
In physical therapy, needles are used to treat local inflammatory phenomena associated with any musculo-skeletal condition based on neurophysiological principles, alongside other therapeutic techniques.
Myofascial pain syndrome is a disorder in which muscle pain appears without any trauma or muscle injury. The syndrome is characterized by all the symptoms caused by a trigger point or multiple trigger points.
The trigger points are defined by a taut band in the muscle (contraction knot) after compression, stretching or prolonged muscle overload (old injury, repetitive work, etc.). These points can be active, which means they refer pain to the areas beyond the tense muscle. They can also be latent, which means the pain is only felt locally.
Dry needling has been demonstrated to be particularly effective for this kind of syndrome by causing micro-lesions and vasodilation in the muscles, thus prompting a controlled inflammatory reaction that promotes tissue repair and especially, deactivation of the trigger point.