Dry Needling is a treatment in which your podiatrist will insert a very fine acupuncture needle into the skin and muscle directly at a myofascial trigger point.
A myofascial trigger point is a painful knot within a tight band of muscle. Pain frequently radiates from these points of local tenderness to broader areas, sometimes distant from the trigger point itself. Trigger points usually occur in muscles that have been overworked, often through overuse or due to abnormal foot posture.
Although there are many similarities and differences between Dry Needling and traditional acupuncture, Dry Needling is strictly based on Western medicine principles and research.
The exact mechanisms of Dry Needling are not known. Recent studies have shown that inserting a needle into trigger points can cause complicated changes to both the tension of the muscle and the chemicals in the blood around the trigger points, resulting in breaking up of the knots, increased blood flow and reduced pain.
There are many conditions causing musculoskeletal pain of the lower limb, ankle and foot that could potentially be treated with Dry Needling. A common example is trigger points within the calf and foot muscles referring pain to the heel that are often overlooked in those presenting with Plantar Fasciitis / Heel Spur Syndrome. Other conditions may be related to the Achilles Tendon, calf spasms / tightness or any other muscles below the knee.
The majority of patients feel very little on insertion of the needle. Sometimes a small muscle twitch may occur that elicits a very brief (less than a second) painful response that some describe as a very little electric shock. The needles generally stay in for 10-15 minutes and during that time patients describe the sensation as feeling nearly nothing to a mild deep but comfortably tolerable aching sensation.
Although there are very few side effects of Dry Needling some patients report being mildly sore after the procedure. The soreness is described as muscle soreness over the area treated and occasionally into the areas of referred symptoms. Typically, the soreness lasts between a few hours and two days. Patients are always advised by our podiatrists to apply heat at home after the treatment over the area of needling as this significantly reduces post needling muscle soreness. Ice is not advised as this is likely to rapidly cause the redevelopment of trigger points.
Dry Needling typically takes several visits (usually between 4-6) to the podiatrist for a positive reaction to take place. The aim is to basically reprogram the muscle. This is often done in conjunaction with other therapies, such as Joint Mobilisation / Manipulation and Orthotics, to address the underlying cause of the trigger points.