Trigger points are irritable, hard “knots” within a muscle that may cause pain over a large area, leading to difficulty performing everyday tasks. When a trigger point is touched, it hurts and can also cause pain in nearby areas, also known as a referral pattern. When a person has painful muscles and trigger points, it is sometimes called myofascial pain syndrome. Common locations for these problems are the arm and neck, however can be present in various other locations.
Dry needling is a treatment that involves a very thin needle being pushed through the skin to stimulate a trigger point. Dry needling may release the tight muscle bands associated with trigger points and lead to decreased pain and improved function. In a study published in the September 2013 issue of Journal of Orthopaedic and Sport Physical Therapy (JOSPT), a group of researchers analyzed the results of the best clinical studies that have been conducted thus far to determine if dry needling helps to reduce neck and arm pain.
After reviewing many sources of information and evaluating both the quality and results of the relevant studies, the researchers determined that dry needling can be effective in providing pain relief associated with a variety of conditions that lead to muscle tension and spasms associated with arthritis, nerve irritation, muscular strain, ligament strains and herniated discs
Myofascial pain syndrome, or trigger points, can be a source of pain and limit function. Dry needling is a specialized treatment for trigger points provided by some physical therapists. It is one possible treatment option, usually combined with other techniques including exercises, to manage myofascial pain. Your physical therapist will perform a thorough evaluation to help determine if you are a good candidate for this treatment as part of a program designed to reduce your pain and improve your function. For more information on the treatment of myofascial pain, contact us!