Dry needling involves the insertion of very fine needles into specific trigger points within muscles, helping to restore the muscle to optimal and unrestricted function.
Dry needling is often used as an adjunct treatment for muscular pains and when rehabilitating injuries of the feet and lower legs. By restoring the muscles’ ability to effectively lengthen, contract and build strength without restriction, dry needling may also play an important role in helping you to return to full function.
Understanding dry needling
A trigger point is an area in your muscle that has formed a painful nodule, more commonly referred to as a knot. This knot is made of muscle fibres, and develops in overactive muscles. When your muscles have knots, they are unable to fully lengthen or function optimally, which can result in muscle tightness.
Tight knots in lower limb muscles may contribute to both pain and injury by restricting normal foot function and resulting in compensatory movement patterns.
A common example is the calf muscle. A tight calf muscle increases the tension in the Achilles tendon causing your heel to lift up off the ground earlier when you walk. This early heel lift increases the pressure and force applied to the joints and tissues in the ball of the foot, potentially creating pain or injury.
Dry needling uses fine needles that are carefully inserted into the palpable knots to relax them, which releases the tension and reduces any associated pain. The muscles can then return to regular movement and function.
Which problems can dry needling help with?
We use dry needling to help with a range of musculoskeletal problems including heel pain, plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinopathy, calf pain, shin splints, forefoot pain, ankle pain and peroneal tendinopathy.
Is dry needling painful?
The needles we use are so fine that they often cause very little discomfort, and most people don’t feel any painful sensation. The term ‘dry’ needling comes from the fact that the needle has no passage within it for a liquid to pass through like an injection needle does. This means they are very fine in size.
You may feel a twitch from your muscle after your trigger point is released, followed by a dull ache. This is completely normal, and is very well tolerated.
Is dry needling and acupuncture the same?
Acupuncture is founded on the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine, believing that when your chi is blocked, you are vulnerable to illness. Acupuncture uses measured points around the body to restore the chi and balance, thereby allowing your body to heal itself.
Dry needling uses palpable trigger points identified in the muscles to restore healthy function. This is based on Western Medicine, and is supported by evidence-based research for some conditions.
Both however use very similar, if not the same, style of needle.