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Dry needling, like acupuncture, uses very thin filiform needles to insert into myofascial trigger points. This differs from medical trigger point injections that use hollow hypodermic needles which inject substances such as saline solution, botox, or corticosteroids into an involved area. Studies show the use of a solid filiform needle inserted into a trigger point has been found to be as effective as the injection of these substances for the relief of pain in muscles and connective tissue. Analgesia is produced at the point of treatment with the insertion and manipulation of these filiform needles.
Dry needling for the treatment of myofascial trigger points utilizes a similar needling technique to that of acupuncture, but the rationale and use in treatment are quite different. Dry needling targets a trigger point, which is the direct and palpable source of patient pain, rather than the traditional “meridians”, accessed via acupuncture. The distinction between trigger points and acupuncture points for the relief of pain is blurred, as there is a high degree of correlation between the locations of trigger points and classical acupuncture points for the relief of pain. What differentiates dry needling from traditional acupuncture is that dry needling is focused primarily on the treatment of soft tissue injury, using modern scientific neurophysiology and anatomy as it’s basis.
In the evaluation of pain there are two primary types: the neuropathic pain from a damaged or dysfunctional nerve, and the nociceptive pain which includes osteoarthritis, headaches, sprains, strains, myofascial pain, etc. Both of these pain types have shown extremely good response to dry needling of associated trigger points.