Trigger point dry needling (TPDN) is a common soft tissue therapy that we use here at Watsonia Podiatry
What Are Trigger Points?
A trigger point is a taut band within the muscle and is often referred to as a ‘knot’ in the muscle. It is associated with localised pain when the trigger point is palpated and a referral of pain to other structures. They form due to acute trauma or repeated microtraumas in the muscle fibres. A lot of patients have heard of trigger points in their shoulders and neck which may cause tension headaches, but are unaware that they can occur in the legs and feet as well.
What Is Trigger Point Dry Needling?
Trigger point dry needling involves the use of an acupuncture needle into a trigger point within the muscle. The aim of trigger point dry needling is to relax the trigger point in order to reduce your pain. It provides what is called an analgesic effect, which is pain relief, as well as helping to promote blood flow to the area and flush out the chemicals responsible for pain. When the acupuncture needle is inserted into the muscle, it initiates a chemical and mechanical response. The ‘twitch’ response is a visible small movement of the muscle and it indicates that the needle has accurately penetrated the trigger point.
What Does It Feel Like?
The sensation of dry needling is different for everyone. Some find it uncomfortable, whilst others barely notice it. It also depends on which muscles are being targeted, with larger muscle groups usually being more uncomfortable to needle. Patients will feel the initial sharp prick of the needle when it is inserted into the muscle. Patients can experience a dull, heavy, aching feeling and/or a twitch response when the needle is inserted. The needle usually remains in situ (in the muscle) for approximately 5-10 minutes.
What Can I Expect To Feel After My Treatment?
In most cases, patients will experience pain relief immediately after their treatment. However, some patients may experience some tenderness in the area following dry needling, which usually subsides over a day or two. We advise that if you do pull up sore from treatment, avoid high impact or aggravating activities until the pain settles. You can also use a heat pack on the sites to provide pain relief. We also recommend that you make sure you stay hydrated.
How Big Are The Needles?
The needles that we use are not the same that would be used for a vaccination or blood test for example. They are far smaller.
What Structures Would A Podiatrist Needle?
A podiatrist is trained in dry needling from the knee to the toes, which incorporates over 20 muscles. We are also able to complete courses that cover dry needling from the hip to the knee.