Let’s talk a bit about a treatment that’s only legal in a handful of states. Okay its not that drastic, but PTs are lucky enough to have dry needling under the scope of their practice in New Jersey. Our acupuncturists in our Old Bridge and Freehold locations are trained in the trigger point needling technique. Trigger Point Needling is similar to acupuncture in that they use the same needle, but otherwise is very different. Acupuncture is based off of traditional Chinese Medicine and uses a total body approach where channels are opened and meridians are balanced. Dry needling uses solely Western Medicine principles and focuses directly to treat musculature pain and stubborn trigger points. To give a quick breakdown of what happens when tissues are injured: whether chronic or acute, injured tissues produce inflammation and enter a state of contracture (tightness) to protect against any additional damage to that area. Microcirculation of blood to these damaged tissues is then decreased, which stalls the healing process and stimulates the production of scar tissue (everyone’s favorite term). Along with scar tissue formation come adhesions between different soft tissues creating more tightness in the injured area. This can develop into a biochemical and biomechanical catastrophe leading to pain and dysfunction. Scar tissue and adhesions limit movement of the tissue, put those tissues at a greater risk for injury and can be direct sources of pain. Breaking scar tissue and internal adhesions is almost always a focus in treatments, especially those post-surgical.
So how can trigger point needling in conjunction with your acpuncturists help you? Dry needling looks to break the pain cycle at its source. A tiny, solid filament needle (see size comparison above) is inserted directly into trigger points that your therapist finds and deems problematic. You may not even feel this part! Your body then recognizes the needle as a foreign invader and begins the healing cascade on a biochemical level. Microtrauma from inserting the needle and breaking adhesions will also stimulate healing. The therapist will then look to elicit a Local Twitch Response (LTR) where the muscle will actually twitch for a short second. ollowing this, the muscle will learn to relax and gain flexibility. Mild soreness following a session is completely normal and should subside within a day or so. It may take a few sessions until you start feeling lasting results. Dry needling will not hurt you and has many natural benefits. It can treat injured tissues from sports injuries, chronic injuries, post-surgical cases, those caused by emotional stress, and disease-related injuries (such as RA and fibromyalgia). Like every other modality we offer, this is completely optional but may be the piece of care you need to get rid of that stubborn pain! If you’d like more information on how we can tailor your care plan to include this for your injury, please do not hesitate to contact us today!
Notice what’s not on the list: patella tendon rupture. The patella tendon is extremely strong, and it takes a tremendous amount of force for its fibers to tear. For the common injuries listed above, there are a multitude of non-surgical treatments from patella tendon bands and braces to injections and PRP therapy. Most, however respond best to, or can be prevented by a strong knee stability exercise program. Our physical therapists and athletic trainers orchestrate the most effective exercise programs for their patients based on what their bodies need. However, patella tendon rupture does require surgery in addition to extensive physical therapy. We work diligently with all of our athletes and patients alike to prevent these injuries and treat them when they do happen. Please remember that you should always consult a physician on medical matters. Nothing that you learn on the internet can replace a medical degree. With that, we wish Derek Newton a speedy recovery! Stay Well!