Dry needling gives you that 'twitch response'

The Union Leader, August 27, 2017
By Melanie Plenda


The idea of jabbing needles into a shoulder knot may not sound like a good idea, but the practice can actually offer long term release to muscle pain and even migraine headaches.
Physical therapist Holly Cyr, clinical manager of Rehabilitation Services, said that earlier this year physical therapists at Southern New Hampshire Medical Center in Nashua were trained to offer a new service – dry needling – intended to treat pain and improve movement and range of motion.
The process involves inserting very fine needles – similar to long straight pins – through the skin and into the muscle trigger points to treat what is called myofascial pain. Myofascial pain occurs in the muscle, and the connective tissue surrounding it. There is no medication in the needle, hence it is referred to as “dry.”
As for trigger points, that’s simply the tight painful knots that form when muscles are injured, or strained from repetitive motion. These trigger points are tender to the touch and can also cause pain that spreads to other parts of the body, called referred pain.
To release these knots, dry needling practitioners insert the needle in the trigger point and then move the needled in an up-and-down “pistoning” motion. Cyr said dry needling releases muscle tension, by causing tight muscles to twitch – or cramp – and then relax.
“When you get the twitch response,” she said, “science has shown that will change the biochemical makeup of that trigger point to make it much less irritable.”
Some believe it may also increase blood flow or spark nerve responses that change how a person registers pain, according to hospital officials.
Some might think this sounds a lot like acupuncture. Cyr is quick to point out they are very different. Though both use a similar tool in the form of very thin solid needles, dry needling is a musculoskeletal treatment that places needles in muscle trigger points to restore function and reduce pain. In acupuncture, the needles are placed in areas corresponding with energy points in the body that when pricked, according to traditional acupuncture practice, improve energy flow and reduce pain.
“It’s not based on Eastern Medicine, it’s based on modern physiology biomechanics, rather than the traditional theory of energy.”
Some conditions treated include: neck, shoulder, hip and heel pain; rotator cuff injuries; back pain including sciatica (low back pain that moves through the buttocks and down the leg): carpal tunnel syndrome; tennis and golfers’ elbow; shin splints; migraines and tension headaches; scar tissue that limits range of motion; and movement disorders after a stroke.
Cyr said that since dry needling gets rid of the cause of the pain, it’s a longer lasting treatment than some others. That said, the procedure can be a bit uncomfortable and a patient can expect to be a bit sore for one to three days after.
“There is a little bit of discomfort,” she said. “But the patients I’ve seen who’ve had it done, their philosophy has bee, ‘it’s short term pain for long term gain.’”

Posted: 8/27/2017