When a physician injects a local anesthetic, saline, corticosteroids or other agents into a precise location or known acupuncture point, it’s medically referred to as trigger-point injection. When a needle is inserted in that same point without the administration of a substance, the procedure is called dry needling.
How does it work?
Dry needling utilizes a solid filament needle, just like in the practice of acupuncture, but the gauge or thickness of the needle varies depending on the area of treatment. Dry needling works by mechanically disrupting the integrity of the dysfunctional endplates within the trigger area, resulting in mechanical and physiological resolution of the trigger point. Or more simply put, it forces a mechanical relaxation of the muscles at the trigger point.
How is dry needling different from acupuncture?
There are similarities, but also very significant differences between dry needling and the traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) style of acupuncture. Dry needling is based on Western anatomical and neurophysiological principles. Acupuncture follows rules and beliefs that have been established since ancient times, whereas dry needling is totally based on modern scientific neurophysiology and anatomy. Dry needling is purely for pain relief and based on recent understandings in pain science and there is much less mystique surrounding its use for pain abatement. By contrast, TCM acupuncture can also treat a wide range of internal or systemic illnesses, as well as being an effective treatment for musculoskeletal pain relief.
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This is why a thorough exam and consultation are so important. Recommending a course of treatment solely based on its results with other patients or its popularity is like buying the same style of jeans or a particular brand of running shoes based just because they fit someone else. As dry needling becomes a more mainstream procedure you’re likely to hear more about it. But due to its limitations, acupuncture will always be a viable treatment option for both internal disorders as well as musculoskeletal pain. The doctors at Greenapple Sports and Wellness are versed in the ancient art and science of traditional practices as well as modern techniques and will prescribe the course of treatment that best suits your individual needs.