For the City Times
By Matthew Ironside, PT, DPT, CMTPT, Physical Therapist, Aspirus Riverview Therapies
Almost everyone experiences some form of pain over their life. Back pains, neck pain, headache, shoulder, arm, hip or leg pain. Often these pains have a clear origin and are quickly diagnosed and treated.
What happens when the picture isn’t so clear, or the applied treatment didn’t alleviate the symptoms? Was the correct source of pain diagnosed? Did anyone adequately search for and rule out the muscle – specifically trigger points – as the source of pain?
Myofascial trigger points can frequently be overlooked as a source of pain. A trigger point is an overexerted or fatigued group of muscle fibers. They are palpable from the surface to the trained practitioner and present as an exquisitely tender spot within muscle tissue that is firmer than the surrounding tissues. Often they are described as “knots.” The contractile properties of these muscle fibers are stuck in a contracted state. The environment in the surrounding tissues becomes more acidic, causing a chemical cascade that increases the activity of the pain fibers in the area. Our body becomes sensitized as these trigger points are present, and soon everyday activities that should not be painful become painful. Pain can even be perceived at rest.
One option to treat trigger points that is becoming frequently utilized is the physical therapy treatment of Trigger Point Dry Needling. “Dry” refers to the fact that there is no medication injected.
Trigger Point Dry Needling uses a solid monofilament needle to penetrate the muscle, using the body’s own spinal reflex arc, causing a twitch response in the stuck muscle fibers. This reduces the trigger point and allows the previously stuck fibers to resume normal function. The end result is normalization of the chemical environment and the physical performance of the muscle, reducing pain receptor activity at rest or with non-painful stimulation. Not only can this treatment have a beneficial effect on pain reduction, but it also can improve strength and range of motion.
Trigger Point Dry Needling is a physical therapy treatment offered at Aspirus Riverview Therapies in Wisconsin Rapids. Symptoms we commonly treat with Trigger Point Dry Needling include, but are not limited to: neck pain, headaches, shoulder pain, arm pain, back pains, hip pain and leg pains. At the initial visit, the physical therapist performs an evaluation and works with the patient to establish the most appropriate plan of care, determining if this technique is right for them.