Our highly experienced Physiotherapists here In Southport specialise in applying dry needling and western acupuncture techniques as effective methods for pain relief and injury rehabilitation. Following strict protocols developed by the Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) and Australian Society of Acupuncture Physiotherapists Inc, our practitioners utilise both acupuncture and dry needling to provide optimal care.
What is Dry Needling?
Dry needling or western acupuncture is a natural and effective way to alleviate pain and improve your health. This technique involves the insertion of single use sterile needles into specific trigger points or bands of tight muscle within the body to create increased circulation, endorphines, cytotoxins and relieve pain.
How does dry needling work?
By stimulating the nervous system and promoting physiological responses within the body. When your Physiotherapist inserts a needle into a trigger point, it can cause a local twitch response (LTR), which is a brief contraction of the muscle. This is a like 1 repetition max in the gym for those muscle fibres. This LTR helps to release tension in the muscle, lengthening a shortened contracted muscle to its full length. Dry needling also initiates a local autonomic nervous system response (fight or flight) which stimulates the body’s natural painkillers, such as endorphins, cytokines and a local increase of blood flow. This is often termed the “chi” response and a local redness of the skin around the needle will occur.
So the twitching of the muscle and the local “chi” response have several benefits:
- Pain reduction: After the local “fight or flight response” from the insertion of the needle your nervous system will send a chemical soup around the needle. This decreases the pain. Secondly, the muscle twitch lengthens the muscle out allowing normal muscle function.
- Improved range of motion: The lengthened muscle after the muscle twitch restores the bodies ability to use energy and ATP allowing normal actin and myosin muscle fibre action of the muscle.
- Accelerated healing: Dry needling stimulates blood flow to the affected area, promoting the delivery of oxygen and nutrients necessary for tissue repair.
- Relaxation and stress relief: The release of endorphins during dry needling promotes relaxation and reduces stress levels.
- Breathing Control: With increased blood flow to the needle area its important to maximise the amount of oxygen in your blood. We focus on deep breaths, calmness and a deep sense of meditation during the process.
- Complementary therapy: Dry needling can be used in conjunction with other physiotherapy treatments, like the deep breathing exercises but also heat, focused meditative breathing, exercise therapy and manual therapy to optimise outcomes and promote holistic healing.
What conditions can dry needling treat?
Here are some ways in which acupuncture and dry needling can assist you:
- Reduced Spasticity caused by Stroke: It has been proven to effectively relieve muscle spasticity, a common challenge for stroke patients. These techniques aid in restoring mobility and function.
- Neck and Shoulder Myofascial Trigger Point Release: Acupuncture and dry needling are beneficial for releasing tension and knots in the neck and shoulder muscles caused by conditions like cervical spondylosis or whiplash injuries.
- Headache Pain Reduction: Both acupuncture and dry needling offer natural and drug-free approaches to reducing various types of headaches, including tension headaches and migraines.
- Temporomandibular (Jaw) Myofascial Pain: If you’re experiencing jaw pain due to myofascial issues, acupuncture and dry needling can help relax the muscles. it will reduce inflammation, and restore normal jaw function.
- Improved Low Back Pain: Techniques are highly regarded for their effectiveness in managing low back pain. These treatments reduce inflammation, release muscle tension, and promote tissue healing.
- Fibromyalgia: A chronic condition characterised by widespread musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, sleep disturbances, and mood issues. Acupuncture and dry needling can provide relief. These techniques modulate pain responses and promote relaxation, leading to an improved overall sense of well-being.
- Positive Expectation and Outlook: Acupuncture and dry needling are not only physical treatments but also influence psychological factors. Research suggests that a positive mind set can enhance the analgesic effects of these techniques, contributing to more favourable outcomes.
- Analgesic Effect in Arthritic Joints: For individuals with arthritis, treatment can effectively manage pain by reducing inflammation. This promotes blood circulation, triggering the release of endorphins, the body’s natural pain-relieving chemicals.
Musculoskeletal conditions: It can be used to treat a wide range of symptoms, including:
- Muscle pain and tightness
- Joint pain and stiffness
- Sports injuries
- Tendonitis and tendinopathy
Enhancing Breathing, Circulation, and Endorphin Release
Dry needling not only provides localised effects but also offers broader systemic benefits. By stimulating trigger points, it improves circulation, delivering oxygen and nutrients while removing metabolic waste to support healing. Additionally, the release of endorphins during dry needling enhances overall well-being, reduces pain, and promotes a positive mood.
You can also find all of our great Physios that do dry needling here: Our Physiotherapists.
Understanding the Difference: Acupuncture vs. Dry Needling
You may have noticed that here at PhysioFlex we use dry needling and acupuncture interchangeably. But it is important to know the difference. Physiotherapists often use the term “dry needling” or “western acupuncture” to indicate their focus on muscular trigger points and tight bands. This differentiates it from the broader concepts and techniques associated with traditional Chinese acupuncture which will focus on meridian points. However, both techniques offer valuable therapeutic benefits. They are integral parts of our comprehensive approach to pain management and injury rehabilitation.
Experience the combined benefits of acupuncture and dry needling as part of our holistic care at PhysioFlex. Our dedicated team of physiotherapists will assess your condition, develop a personalised treatment plan, and utilise these techniques to optimise your healing process.
If you have any further questions or need additional information, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We’re here to assist you on your journey to improved health and well-being.