What is Muscle Trigger Point (Dry) Needling Therapy?


To PROCare Physical Therapy Staff For Their Recent Certification in

Intramuscular Dry Needling!

David Tranchita, MA, PT, OCS, CSCS; Brian Bedalov, MSPT; and Abigail Jurinek, DPT recently completed their Certification in Intramuscular Dry Needling. They represent 3 of the only 70 physical therapists in Wisconsin, and 3 of 150 physical therapists in the United States who have this certification.  Dave, Brian and Abigail have already had significant training in Intramuscular Dry Needling, and this recent class and exam was the final step in their certification process.

Dry Needling is an extremely effective pain management treatment tool, particularly for those patients with consistent pain, or those not progressing as rapidly with other types of treatment.

What is Muscle Trigger Point (Dry) Needling Therapy?

Muscle Trigger Point (Dry-Drug Free) Needling Therapy is a procedure done by our Physical Therapists, in which a sterile, solid filament (Acupuncture) needle is inserted into the skin and muscle directed specifically at the myofascial trigger point. The needle is guided in and out of the trigger point area to cause a “twitch” response and to relax the muscle spasm.

How Does It Work?

Based on the pioneering studies of Dr. Jay Shah and colleagues at the National Institute of Health, we know that inserting a needle into a trigger point can cause favorable biochemical changes which assist in reducing pain. It is essential to cause the so-called local “twitch” responses, which are spinal cord reflexes, to get the muscle to relax. Getting local twitch responses with dry needling is the first step in breaking the pain cycle.

How do I know if I am a candidate for Muscle Trigger Point Therapy?

Patients with consistent pain or those not progressing as rapidly with manual therapy or other types of physical therapy treatments should ask their physical therapist or physician if they are a good candidate for this alternative therapy.

What Type of Problems can be Treated with Trigger Point (Dry) Needling?

Trigger Point (Dry) Needling can be used to treat a variety of musculoskeletal problems. Muscles are thought to be the primary contributing factor to the symptoms. Such conditions include, but are not limited to: neck, back and shoulder pain (i.e. frozen shoulder), headaches to include migraines and tension-type headaches, arm pain (i.e. tennis elbow), hip, buttock and leg pain (i.e. sciatic), jaw (TMD) pain, whiplash, carpal tunnel syndrome, and more. The treatment of the muscles has the greatest effect on reducing pain mechanisms in the body.

Is This Procedure Painful?

Yes and No. Trigger Point Therapy does have a reputation as being painful, but only when someone is pressing too hard on the sensitive muscles during massage. However, trigger point (dry) needling can be quite comfortable to receive. Most patients do not feel the insertion of the needle. The local twitch response elicits a very brief (surprising) painful response. Some patients describe this as “pressure”, having a little “electric shock” and others feel it more like a “cramping” sensation. Some clients may experience some mild discomfort but is often described as a “good pain” that rates low on a standard pain scale and is actually welcomed by most clients. Again, the therapeutic response occurs with the elicitation of the local twitch and that is a good and desirable reaction.

What Side Effects Can I Expect After the Treatment?

Most patients report some soreness after each procedure. The symptoms are described as muscle soreness orbruise feeling over the treated areas and into the areas of referred symptoms. Typically, the soreness lasts between a few hours and two (2) days. Some patients also get a “Sympathetic Reaction” which includes sweating, increased heart rate, dizziness and nausea but are less common. We recommend drinking a lot of water after treatments to flush the system.

“ Needling is Amazing! And I HATE needles! Since my first needling last week, I’ve stopped having to wear my brace. The pain has GREATLY reduced. The improvement has been great. I also like the stretches/motions I can do on my own to release the pain. “  — Kimberly F  Tennis Elbow Patient

 “I had dry needling done by Brian, my PT, on July 9 and ALL my pain has disappeared! ” — Linda J, Back Patient

“Previously I spent many weeks in therapy elsewhere with little to no results. Then I began dry needle therapy and I began to notice more improvement in my neck movement and amount of pain”  — Jason  Z, Neck Patient

“ Dry needling has exceedingly improved the movement in my neck.” — Diane K, Neck Patient

”Triggerpoint dry needling really made a big difference for me.” – Gail B,  Shoulder Patient

“I feel Dry Needling has helped me tremendously. I am able to bend my knee now and walk a little better.” – Shelley M, Knee Patient

 “My therapy with Dave was great. He did dry needling which was something new for me. I was a little nervous about it but quickly found out that it wasn’t bad at all. In fact, it made all the difference for me.” – Judy D, Hip Patient

Since beginning trigger point needling therapy and exercises at PROCare the pain intensity is much lower. Muscle soreness is there but soreness is a large improvement over pain. Sleep has also improved. I am not waking up from the pain anymore. With the exercises provided, I have been better able to stretch through discomfort instead of having to sit through the pain. Thanks Dave! – Barbara T], Myofascial Syndrome(Muscle Pain) patient