Trigger point needling

Trigger point / dry needling is a treatment technique where thin filiform needles (solid needles administering no medication) are inserted through the skin into pathological areas of the muscle known as "trigger points" for the purpose of relieving myofascial pain and muscle spasm. The needles will often be manually manipulated by the provider once the needle is in place, which often leads to an involuntary "twitch response" in the muscle. Trigger point dry needling encourages changes to the tissues local to needle insertion. Vessel dilation in the affected regions can encourage the body's natural tissue repair and remodeling, thereby accelerating healing. This practice is applied to treat acute and chronic myofascial pain. There may be short term discomfort during and shortly following treatment, followed by improved mobility and relief. The needles are not retaining in their treatment "points" for very long, unlike traditional acupuncture. 

The same needles are used in both acupuncture and trigger point dry needling treatment. 

The same needles are used in both acupuncture and trigger point dry needling treatment. 

What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture relies upon the use of acupuncture points on specific locations along invisible pathways on the surface of the body called "meridians". These meridians correspond with organ systems and their energies. Specific symptoms and signs relate to the expression of the energy of the internal organ systems. Several factors ranging from injury, stress or illness can lead to congestion of the flow of energy or "qi" along these pathways, which will then inevitably affect several other organ systems if not tended to. 

Treatment point selection is based on information gathered during history collection and examination procedures. Once the proper points are determined, thin needles are inserted into those points to the appropriate depth and left there for approximately 20-30 minutes. The needles may be manually stimulated mid-session by the provider. 

Research has shown that acupuncture reduces nausea and vomiting after surgery and chemotherapy. It can also relieve pain. Researchers don't fully understand how acupuncture works. It might aid the activity of your body's pain-killing chemicals. It also might affect how you release chemicals that regulate blood pressure and flow.

Traditional acupuncture may also be used to treat musculoskeletal pain. These points in the region(s) of pain are called "Ashi" points. Unlike dry needling techniques these ashi points are not perturbed or manipulated as aggressively and the needles are retained for the duration of the treatment, rather than being removed shortly after insertion. Electical stimulation may also be used on ashi points to enhance the treatment. This is referred to as "electroacupuncture". 

NIH: National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine


By Mayo Clinic Staff

Acupuncture involves the insertion of extremely thin needles through your skin at strategic points on your body. A key component of Traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture is most commonly used to treat pain.

Traditional Chinese medicine explains acupuncture as a technique for balancing the flow of energy or life force — known as qi or chi (CHEE) — believed to flow through pathways (meridians) in your body. By inserting needles into specific points along these meridians, acupuncture practitioners believe that your energy flow will re-balance.

In contrast, many Western practitioners view the acupuncture points as places to stimulate nerves, muscles and connective tissue. This stimulation appears to boost the activity of your body's natural painkillers and increase blood flow.

You may try acupuncture for symptomatic relief of a variety of diseases and conditions, including:

  •  Headaches
  • Low back pain
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Migraines
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Dental pain
  • Tennis elbow