We have probably heard the term “dry needling” on more than one occasion, but do we really know what it is?
Dry needling is a physiotherapeutic technique that uses acupuncture needles to treat certain ailments.
However, it should not be confused with acupuncture, as their similarity does not go beyond the use of the same type of needles.
Analysing it in depth, it is defined as a semi-invasive technique because these needles penetrate the skin in search of the so-called “trigger point”, which is the cause of the pain.
The aim is to press this point, deactivate it and end the pain.
How can we find the trigger point?
To find the trigger point, we stimulate the muscle by compressing it, contracting it, stretching it, etc. When these movements produce pain, it suggests that there is a trigger point.
To find out more about dry needling, we need to delve deeper into how or why trigger points are produced, because there are many types.
Firstly, there are those known as active. These are always painful, so that when we apply pressure, spasms occur.
Another indicator is that they do not allow us to stretch the muscle completely and weaken it, extending the pain to distant areas.
Secondly, we will find latent trigger points, where pain is produced only with palpation.
There are also central trigger points. They are located near the centre of the muscle fibre.
As well as the so-called key points. They are responsible for the activation of one or more trigger points.
And finally, the primary trigger points. These are activated by a repetitive movement or acute or chronic overload, without involving another muscle in the activation.
Now that we know the types of trigger points, we must think about how dry needling is carried out, as there are two techniques:
- Superficial puncture, where the needle is introduced to a maximum depth of 1 centimetre into the subcutaneous cellular tissue, without penetrating the muscle.
After the puncture, a conservative treatment is carried out on the trigger point, thus raising the pain threshold and facilitating treatment.
Deep puncture, in which the needles are introduced until they reach the trigger point, so the size of the needle depends on the depth of the muscle, in order to stimulate and treat it.
It is also recommended to accompany the puncture with other techniques or treatments such as the application of cold sprays, stretching, contraction and pressure release.