Dry needling is a treatment technique that involves the insertion of a very thin and flexible needle into a shortened muscle in order to help it relax, loosen and function better. In most cases, multiple muscles have to be needled during a single treatment session. These painful muscles containing tight bands with tender ‘knots’ (known as trigger points) can feel ropey and are involved in many types of soft tissue pain. The trigger points are specifically targeted with the needle during treatment. The needle used is referred to as a ‘dry needle’ because there is no solution or medication being injected. In the Integrated Dry Needling™ (IDN) approach, physiotherapists safely combine dry needling with other common physiotherapy treatments, when appropriate, based on the results of a comprehensive examination.
Myofascial Trigger Points
A myofascial trigger point is a hypersensitive spot, usually within a tight band of muscle or in the muscle’s fascia (surrounding tissue).(1,2) Trigger points can be tender to touch and may create pain in areas distant from the involved muscle itself, which can feel like aching, boring, and sometimes sharp pain; some myofascial trigger points cause pain without being directly provoked.(1,2)
Myofascial trigger points are associated with muscle pain, loss of flexibility and range of motion, as well as functional weakness of a muscle.(2,3)
Simons DG, Travell JG, Simons L. Travell & Simons’ myofascial pain and dysfunction: the trigger point manual. 2nd ed. Vol. 1. Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins; 1999.
Shah JP, Thaker N, Heimur J, Aredo JV, Sikdar S, Gerber L. Myofascial Trigger Points Then and Now: A Historical and Scientific Perspective. PM R. 2015 Jul;7(7):746–61.
Moraska AF, Schmiege SJ, Mann JD, Butryn N, Krutsch JP. Responsiveness of Myofascial Trigger Points to Single and Multiple Trigger Point Release Massages: A Randomized, Placebo Controlled Trial. Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 2017 Sep;96(9):639–45.