The cost effective approach is used in treating myofascial dysfunction, a painful condition. At first glance, dry needing appears to be identical to acupuncture, a facet of Traditional Chinese Medicine, but it is very different.
Dry needing is a western development that focuses on neurology and anatomy in a biological sense rather than in a spiritual or energy sense. However, like acupuncture the needles do use specific trigger points to treat myofascial dysfunction.
Myofascial dysfunction is a type of chronic pain that is associated with fibromyalgia. However, it is a distinct disorder with its own set of symptoms and treatments.
Fascia is a web-like tissue that surrounds bones, muscles, blood vessels, and organs in the body. Myofascial dysfunction causes degeneration of the fascia, leading to chronic pain.
Fascia connects to muscles at trigger points that can be felt as nodules under the skin. These connective points are where pain is detected in cases of myofascial dysfunction. Myofascial dry needling addresses the pain at the source of the myofascial trigger points (TrPs).
Myofascial Dry Needling
The inexpensive dry needling approach uses the trigger points as a guide for relieving pain associated with the dysfunction. The points are extremely sensitive and painful to the touch. Indiviudals who have the disorder notice:
- Tender skin
- Autonomic phenomena
- Motor problems
Prior to myofascial needling, physicians injected substances that were supposed to relieve pain, but they discovered that the pain relief was associated with the stimulation the needle rather than the substance injected. The process may work by redirecting dysfunctional endplates in the affected region.
Janet Travell, MD, a physician who would later work as President John F. Kennedy’s physician, initially developed the approach during the 1940s. Some refer to this needle technique as “biomedical acupuncture” but it is important to recognize the difference between dry needling and acupuncture.
Acupuncture and Dry Needling
It is important to make the distinction between the approaches. Dry needling differs from acupuncture in a number of ways.
- Dry needling technicians are not trained in acupuncture
- Meridian acupoints are exclusive to acupuncture
- Dry needling does not use Traditional Chinese Medicine theories
- The approaches use different forms of diagnosis
- Each approach uses its own technique
- Acupuncture uses energy channels
- Dry needling uses biomedical foundations
Managing Myofascial Pain
Myofascial pain can be difficult to manage, especially considering how difficult it is to detect. People are often misdiagnosed as having fibromyalgia or other chronic pain condition when myofascial dysfunction is present. Proper diagnosis is the first step in treating the condition properly.
Those who think they can benefit from dry needling have a few resources available, but it is best to get a proper diagnosis in order to create a comprehensive treatment plan. Myofascial is a very effective option that offers relief with little or no side effects.