MEDICAL & ELECTRO – ACUPUNCTURE/ DRY NEEDLING
Medical and Electro-Acupuncture or Dry Needling is a procedure that uses sterile medical grade (disposable, single use) solid filament (acupuncture) needles inserted into the skin and muscle directly at a myofascial trigger point.
Myofascial trigger points (occasionally known as a knots) are associated to the production and maintenance of the pain cycle and may refer the pain elsewhere away from the actual site.
The Dry Needling approach, which often uses less needles, is based on Western anatomical and neurophysiological principles which are not to be confused with the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) technique of acupuncture.
Dry needling can be used for a variety of musculoskeletal problems. Muscles are thought to be a primary contributing factor to the symptoms. Conditions which respond to dry needling include but are not limited to:
• Frozen Shoulder
• Tennis elbow
• Carpal tunnel syndrome
• Golfer's elbow
• Buttock pain
• Leg pain
• Hamstring strains
• Shin splints
• Muscle Spasms
• Sciatic Pain
• Hip Pain
• Knee Pain
• Repetitive Strain Injuries
The mechanism is complex if not known exactly but there are mechanical and biomechanical effects. Studies suggest that inserting a needle into trigger points can cause favourable biochemical changes which assist in reducing pain. It is key to elicit a Local Twitch Response which is a spinal cord reflex and is the first step in breaking the pain cycle.
Something causes pain, if it happens often enough or if the trauma is great enough, the pain signal may return through the Sympathetic Ganglion and activate Primary Afferent Nociceptors which will feedback to the spinal cord. This will cause pain to continue instead of fade.
At the same time motor neurones may become stuck in a feedback loop, facilitating muscle spasm. In some cases this cycle may continue for many years continually eliciting the feeling of pain.
Introducing a new stimulus (i.e. the needle) impedes or breaks the ‘loop’ and has the effect of relaxing the muscle.
A spasmed muscle becomes a damaged muscle. Spasm reduces blood flow in the muscle. This means less oxygen and nutrients to the muscle. Muscle fibres die off and get replaced by fibrous scar tissue. This in turn holds the muscle tight, prevents muscle metabolites from leaving the muscle and causes continued spasm and pain.
Putting a needle into a spasmed muscle causes the muscle to relax.
Generally, needle insertion is not felt, the local twitch response may provoke a very brief pain response. This has been described as a small electric shock or a cramping sensation. During treatment, patients commonly experience heaviness in the limbs or a pleasant feeling or relaxation.
The benefits of Medical Acupuncture/ Dry Needling frequently include more than just relief from a particular condition. Many people find that it can also lead to increased energy levels, better appetite and sleep as well as an enhanced sense of overall wellbeing.
Occasionally patients report soreness in the treated area and referral zone lasting from a few hours to two days.
Typically, it takes several visits for a positive reaction to take place. We are trying to cause mechanical and biochemical changes without any medication. Therefore, we are looking for a cumulative response to achieve a certain threshold after which the pain cycle is disturbed.
Dry needling is a relatively new method of treating myofascial pain and not everyone is aware of this effective modality. Feel free to inform your GP about this treatment option and the Clinic can be contacted for further queries.
More frequently, medical acupuncture/ dry needling is needed at the beginning of treatment to help break the pain cycle then other treatment modalities are introduced, hence, if appropriate it is included as part of the treatment programme.
The musculoskeletal system is under constant pressure from gravity, stress, work etc. Regular exercise combined with good posture can prevent many problems. If the pain returns, ‘tune-ups’ and maintenance are recommended to treat and prevent injuries.
What our clients say
"After taking up marathon running at the tender age of 50, and with my preceding 40 years being an active sportsman, my body started to fail me. My particular issue was tendonosis of my achilles tendons and a combination of tight/ inflexible hamstrings and glutes. Dean's thorough diagnosis and treatment has not only allowed me to continue in the short term with my running and football exploits, but has also given me the faith that with continued treatment, my condition has and will continue to improve. I have no hesitation in recommending his particular skills to anyone. Thank You."