Myofascial pain is more common than people think. Athletes, individuals and seniors all run the risk of suffering from myofascial pain at some point in their lives. But what is it exactly? Myofascial pain is a chronic type of muscular irritability that stems from trigger points (knots of muscle) within tissue most often located in the arm, neck or back. These knots limit blood flow and trap lactic acid inside muscle fibers. Extreme overuse or prolonged underuse of a muscle group is typically the underlying cause of myofascial pain, such as weight lifting irresponsibly or being confined to a cast for an extended period of time. However, myofascial pain can also be caused by an injury.
Diagnosing myofascial pain can be tricky as the majority of its symptoms are shared by fibromyalgia—a disease that also affects muscle tissue. Often times, it can be difficult for physiotherapists to pinpoint the source of the original strain. Patients often experience a phenomenon known as “referred pain” where the original injury causes discomfort in a separate part of their body. Those suffering from myofascial pain also often experience stiffness, fatigue, and have difficulty sleeping. The stress resulting from this lack of sleep can lead to further degeneration of the muscles and limited mobility. However, those suffering from myofascial pain can still find relief. One of the most common treatments is dry needling.
What is Dry Needling?
Dry needling is a modern technique used by trained physical therapists and medical professionals to relieve myofascial pain. Instead of focusing on the flow of energy pathways like the ancient Chinese acupuncturists, dry needling relies upon a thorough understanding of western medicine and human anatomy.
By shallowly inserting a collection of thin filament needles into a patient’s tissue, therapists can release the contracted muscle knots and renew mobility. These needles, such as the Myotech Dry Needles, are surgical grade and often coated with parylene to allow for smooth insertion. Needles come in a variety of sizes, but it’s essential for needles to be stable upon insertion and thin enough to discourage infection. Like any hypodermic syringe or needle, these needles should be safely discarded after a single use in a Sharps Container to prevent contamination and disease. Dry needling as a practice is considered to be “dry” as the needles are only intended to stimulate the punctured tissue and do not contain any medication.
Dry needling can relieve pain for a multitude of musculoskeleton conditions including, tendonitis, muscle spasms, sciatica, neck or back pain, hip or knee pain, muscle sprains and strains, fibromyalgia, tennis elbow, RSI and overuse injuries.
Typically, physiotherapists will combine dry needling with a suitable exercise routine to rehabilitate the injured muscle groups. This routine often begins with light stretching and motor function exercises intended to improve the patient’s range of motion or bad posture. Muscle strengthening exercises will be introduced later on in the rehabilitation process in order to ensure the lasting health of the injured tissue.
If you are experiencing myofascial pain and you are interested in learning more about dry needling, consult your physician or physiotherapist to see if it will be beneficial to your rehabilitation. After consulting, be sure to check out our full selection of dry needles and acupuncture needles!