Chronic pain affects approximately 50 million American adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Fortunately, scientific advancements have resulted in many different treatment options to help you control your chronic pain so you can get back to the life you love. One of those treatments involves no medicine at all, but is rather inspired by acupuncture: trigger-point therapy.
Trigger-point therapy is a safe pain management technique whereby a trained specialist inserts a hair-thin needle into your muscle’s trigger point, which is the sensitive or tender point that is emanating pain. This method is also known as dry needling, since the needles do not carry any medication.
Here are seven key factors that make trigger-point therapy an excellent and revolutionary treatment:
1. It’s much different from acupuncture
Although it involves thin needles inserted into the skin similarly to acupuncture, the ancient Chinese technique’s base purpose is to rebalance the patient’s “energy flow.” In contrast, trigger-point therapy follows science-based guidelines to identify and stimulate specific trigger points in the muscles, and to reduce tension in stressed muscles.
2. It loosens up knots in tense muscles
Trigger-point therapy is also called myofascial trigger point dry needling, intramuscular manual therapy, and intramuscular stimulation, reflecting its focus on unknotting tense muscles. This type of “knot” is similar to a charley horse.
When your muscles suffer from overuse or trauma, these painful knots can form. The fibers in an overused muscle do not receive the adequate blood supply which will allow it to relax. The tissue near the muscle becomes more acidic, and the nerves become more sensitive, resulting in pain and discomfort. When a physical therapist inserts a needle into the trigger point, it can loosen the knot and help return normal blood flow into the area, releasing muscle tension.
3. It’s useful for many conditions
Dry needling usually works as part of a comprehensive treatment plan that may include exercise, physical therapy, massage, and other interventions which are designed to relieve mild to moderate pain and restore mobility. Trigger-point therapy is useful for conditions including the following:
- Muscle strains
- Herniated discs
- Knee pain
- Shoulder pain
- Nerve disorders
- Plantar fasciitis
Dry needling can also help reduce your dependence on pain medication.
4. The pain relief is long-lasting but differs for each patient
Some patients experience relief right after a dry needling session. For others, it may take more than one session to feel better. Patients who are in good health can generally get dry needling once to twice a week, but talk to your doctor and therapist about their recommended frequency of trigger-point therapy sessions.
5. You might experience dizziness and drowsiness after the dry needling session
Some patients report feeling dizzy or faint after the treatment. Additional side effects include mild soreness or bruising in the treated area. These usually subside after a few hours, but you can apply a cold compress to mitigate these effects. It is a good idea to have someone else drive you home, especially after your first session when you see how your body reacts.
6. Avoid strenuous exercise after a trigger-point therapy session
It would be best to refrain from any strenuous activity or exercise immediately after treatment, since exercising may aggravate your muscles. However, it’s essential to keep the treated area moving, so engage in gentle exercises and stretches as your physical therapist recommends.
7. It’s not for people who have potential blood-related issues
Pregnant women are not advised to undergo trigger-point therapy and other needle-based treatments, since clinical studies have yet to fully evaluate their effects on the mother and child. Also, individuals who are taking blood thinners and patients recovering from surgery should consult with a doctor about whether dry needling would be an appropriate pain-relief option for you.
Trigger-Point Therapy in Austin, Round Rock, and Manor, TX
If you would like to explore trigger-point therapy to relieve musculoskeletal pain, schedule a consultation here at Endeavor Physical Therapy & Wellness. Our physical therapists are highly trained in dry needling to successfully bring pain relief and to restore full function to the affected muscle.
To schedule an appointment, call us today at (512) 284-7192 or fill out our appointment request form online now. We look forward to helping you enjoy life without pain and limitation!