HOW DOES IT WORK?
Myofascial dry needling (MDN) to put it simply, can replace 30-40 minutes of deep tissue massage on an area. It is an extremely effective way of reducing muscular tension and neuromuscular holding patterns that occur during a time of injury. It can be uncomfortable, but not as uncomfortable as what 30-40 minutes of deep tissue massage can be.
The needle is placed on what is called a ‘trigger point’. A trigger point is an area of muscle that is hyper-irritable and some describe it as a small ‘micro cramp’ within the muscle. This just means you have some of the muscles fibers adhesed together. This microcramp causes local oxygen starvation to the near-by tissue, thus effecting it’s function.
The needle is placed intramuscularly into this spot. It will sever the ‘neuromuscular junction’, which will mean the fibers that are being told to contract will no longer be receiving this input from the neuron/nervous system. This will take the chemical stimulus away from the muscle which will encourage it to return to it’s normal length and stop contracting.
The muscles chemical balance will also be disturbed and calcium (which helps in muscle contraction) will be allowed to be absorbed back into the blood stream for diluted diffusion across the body. The lack of calcium in this area will mean that magnesium can flood in and coach the muscle to relax.
You may find that you get a ‘twitch response’ from the needling. This is a spinal reflex from our central nervous system. It signifies we are on an area that is hyper-irritable. Some believe that these spasmodic contractions allow for the chemical balance of the area to be positively disturbed and for homeostasis of the region to be encouraged.
The needles also work to interrupt the pain signals from the area of discomfort. You can only receive one type of input neurally from an area of the body. Once the needles enter, they stop what previous pain signalling was occurring and replace it with the input that they cause. This break in pain signalling can sometimes work to ‘down-regulate’ the perception of pain and this can be enough to help the brain associate more positive feelings associated with the area. This can be particularly useful used over a period of time for conditions like chronic pain and dysfunction.
In the days after the needling, a healthy inflammatory response will occur in the area. Consequentially this results in the recycling of damaged cells and removal of excessive wastes such as; hydrogen and calcium. The regeneration of the penetrated area of muscle will occur due to the increased cellular activity stimulated by the needles.
The needles are your friends. They enter the muscle and do their best to reduce to pain. MDN is simple, quick and extremely effective. Soreness and tenderness is associated with MDN in the 2-3 days following the needling. After that, you can expect increased flexibility and a reduction of pain signalling in this area.