Dry Needling is a manual therapy technique used by Myotherapists to help reduce pain and tension in muscles.
We've previously discussed the similarities and differences between Dry Needling and Acupuncture, but you may still be wondering - how does Dry Needling actually work?
The "Dry" Needle
The reason they are called "dry" needles is to differentiate them from hollow needles like the ones used for blood tests or vaccinations. A dry needle can't inject or withdraw fluids from your body.
The needles themselves are ultra thin and flexible. They come with a guide tube to allow us to place them with care and precision.
All needles used for dry needling are single use only.
Where We Apply It
Myotherapists use dry needling in painful, tight or restricted muscle groups. You may have heard about Trigger Points - those painful, tight bands that can form within a muscle over time, with repeated use or from injury. Dry needling is a technique that helps address these trigger point areas in a very specific and precise way.
We assess the areas through watching you move and through palpating the muscles to find the best spots within the muscle to position the needle to relieve the trigger point. We also assess the surrounding joints and muscles, for example for hip pain we may find that dry needling in your lower back or in your thigh can help relieve pain and strain from your hip.
What Happens When We Needle A Trigger Point?
When we first insert the needle to the muscle, it can be felt as a little pinprick sensation on the skin. We then guide the tip of the needle into the right angle and depth of the muscle to directly stimulate the trigger point. This takes some skill and the ability to visualise in 3D the target muscle and the surrounding tissue like nerves, veins, arteries, bones and ligaments.
By applying the needle into that trigger point, it causes a combination of chemical and electrical responses by the muscle. The micro damage causes by inserting the needle sends chemical messengers to the brain to get a healing response to occur. It can also cause a nerve impulse to occur, making the muscle twitch and release.
To Stimulate or Not To Stimulate
Because our aim in using dry needling is to get a change in the muscle tension, we often can stimulate the needle. This means we might gently move the needle in a pulsing in/out movement to repeatedly stimulate the trigger point, or we might twist the needle in a particular direction or in a series of back and forward movements.
Stimulation of the needle can lead to more twitching, what we call Local Twitch Response. Dry needling can be effective even without the involuntary muscle twitch response.
Some practitioners prefer a more intensive stimulation of the needles, however we prefer a gentle and slow approach.
Does Dry Needling Hurt?
In most cases, not really. Which is often surprising! The most common sensations you'll feel are the pinprick of the needle being positioned, a dull aching or tightening sensation around the needle, and the quick twitching response of the muscles releasing. The twitching can sometimes feel intense, but only lasts a very short time.
After needling, some people can experience a little localised soreness at the sites of the needles, but most people just feel relief from tension and pain in those areas.
Is Dry Needling Safe?
In the hands of a trained practitioner, dry needling is a safe and effective technique.
Myotherapists undergo many months of training and assessment in the skillful use of dry needling, however not all practitioners who offer dry needling are Myotherapists. Remedial Massage Therapists, Chiropractors, Physiotherapists, and other skilled practitioners can opt to undertake short courses in dry needling.
Here in the Simple Wellness Myotherapy clinic, we only allow our Myotherapists to use dry needling on our patients, and we strongly believe that a weekend short course is not enough time to develop the skills needed to use dry needling safely and effectively.
What Sort Of Pain Can Dry Needling Help Treat?
Dry needling is great for releasing tight trigger point areas all throughout the body. It can be effective in treating headaches, neck and shoulder pain, back pain, bursitis, pain from disc injuries, sports injuries, plantar fasciitis - so many things!
Want to try dry needling for your muscle pain? Book an appointment with one of our Myotherapists.
We took the last 10 days to take a slow and cautious approach to completing our risk assessment with the rolled back Stage 3 Restrictions here in Victoria.
I've just listened to Dan Andrews' update for Sunday 19/07/20, and after reviewing all the data of the last 10 days since the Stage 3 Restrictions were re-announced, I have some updates on our risk assessment.
And its good news!
Our local council area, Knox Council, has stayed a relatively low risk zone. Knox has remained one of the least effected regions of Metro Melbourne throughout the pandemic. As of 19/07/20, there are only 9 active cases of COVID19 in the Knox region, and the data shows good statistics on very low new cases occurring in our area, and good rates of recovery.
The Department of Health has advised that Myotherapy and Remedial Massage appointments are still allowed under the current Stage 3 Restrictions.
This means that you are currently allowed to continue getting treatment for chronic pain conditions, injuries, or pain from your new work from home set up!
We can help you with headaches, back pain, sciatica, shoulder pain, fibromyalgia pain, RSI, nerve symptoms like pins & needles and shooting pains, and these sorts of specific pains or injuries.
From Monday 20th July, we will be open these hours:
Monday, Tuesday & Friday 9am-7pm
Wednesday & Thursday 9am-4pm
Dan Andrews has announced today that from midnight on Wednesday this week, it is mandatory to wear protective face masks outside of your home. This is to protect you, your family and your community. We know this may not feel comfortable during your treatment, but we will ask that you keep your mask on during your appointment.
Help us to keep COVID19 out of our clinic:
What about Stage 4 Restrictions?
Theres a lot of talk going around about Stage 4 Restrictions, but Dan Andrews has not announced any plans to move to this level of restriction at this time.
If any further tightening of restrictions is announced, we will keep you informed with how that impacts your treatment plan.
To make a booking, go to our online booking page to see our current availabilities.
Here in Melbourne, we're back in Stage 3 Restrictions.
That means that most of our favourite ways to move, stretch and exercise may not be available to us right now, including gyms, yoga studios, pilates classes, martial arts, personal training, and lots more.
So what are your options from home to keep moving, stretching and feeling physically well? Here are some of our favourite at home, online accessible resources.
Erica Webb Yoga & Pilates Virtual Studio - Erica has an amazing and gentle approach to movement as medicine. Shes fun, insightful, and her classes are suitable for people of all ages and abilities. Erica is a local yoga teacher from Croydon. Her membership subscription costs less than a single traditional yoga class per month.
Nate Bower Fitness - you don't need a boxing bag to be able to follow along with these boxing drills. Guaranteed to get your heart rate up, and lots of beginner friendly classes. This YouTube channel provides free 20-30 minute boxing class videos.
Couch To 5K App - Want to start running? This app helps you go from dusting off your old runners, to running a full 5km. Starting with very small bursts of running with big walk intervals, and as your fitness improves the interval timing changes, until you can make it through your full 5km run. I've used this app myself in the past and found it really useful and encouraging. You can use the official C25K app on Apple or Android, or there are plenty of similar versions for free (maybe with a few ads!)
Mountain Pilates - Jeanette Tatton is a local pilates instructor in the Hills, and is running Zoom pilates classes each week. Pilates is a great full body workout that is gentle but effective at strengthening your body.
Alpha Health - Our good friend Ash and her partner Paul are amazing personal trainers offering online coaching to keep you fit and moving throughout isolation. When Anytime Fitness in Ferntree Gully is open, Ash offers training there, too.
What are your favourite online resources to stay inspired and healthy during lockdown? Let us know on our social media channels on Facebook and Instagram!
Unless you've been hiding under a rock, if you live in Melbourne then you'll be aware that our local new COVID19 cases have been dramatically increasing, and that in response to the rapid rise of infection numbers, Premier Dan Andrews has rolled Metro Melbourne back into Stage 3 Restrictions.
What does this mean for your treatment plan with your Myotherapist or Remedial Massage Therapist?
The good news is that Myotherapy and Remedial Massage have been given the OK by the Health Department, and getting a treatment is included in the four reasons to leave your home under the Seeking Medical Care category.
However, we're taking a cautious approach.
We are planning a short closure from Thursday 9th July to Sunday 19th July, and aim to reopen from Monday 20th July.
Why are we closing if the Health Department have not forced us to close?
In short, we want time to gather more data about these spikes in infection to inform our risk assessment.
We closed for 9 weeks when the pandemic was first announced. At that time, most infections in Melbourne were coming from international travelers and people returning home from overseas. Health experts were unsure how the numbers would play out, and we followed the advice from the Association of Massage Therapists to close our doors for safety. The strict stay at home orders during March through til June appeared to keep our infection numbers low in Victoria, and these numbers have started rising quickly in the weeks since restrictions have been eased.
The situation now feels closer to home and even more serious than back in March. The infections Melbourne is experiencing right now are a high number of community transmissions.
Our choice to close for a short time is more of an ethical choice than a legal choice. Legally, we are allowed to remain open throughout the 6 week Stage 3 rollback. However, we always want to put patient health and safety first, and after a 9 week closure earlier this year we feel it would be irresponsible to ignore the very real risks that are present now.
Our current risk assessment
Thankfully, our clinic is in a location that has very few local cases. Knox has 2 active cases as of 9/7/2020, and has had less than 30 confirmed cases total throughout the pandemic, according to the Victorian Government website.
The majority of our patients live in Knox, Yarra Ranges, Casey, Maroondah and Monash council areas. Many of you are now working from home, but some are still traveling for work or have family living in other regions.
We know that some COVID19 test results are taking up to 5 days to process, which means the daily new case figures may be reflecting the test results of up to 5 days ago.
We have also seen many of our high risk patients choosing to stay home in isolation a little longer, including people with compromised immune systems, elderly or caring for elderly, or people with pre-existing respiratory conditions.
We currently expect that our risk level is relatively low due to our location, screening procedures, sanitisation and cleaning procedures.
However, we acknowledge that it would only take one infected person to potentially risk others.
What do we expect to learn by closing temporarily?
In the safety of closing for this short period, we expect to gain more insight on infection numbers close by to our clinic, and in Metro Melbourne as a whole.
We do expect numbers will continue to rise because of the delays between testing and results. We hope by taking an extra 10 days to wait on the numbers we will get a better understanding of the situation so we can modify our COVID19 Plan if we need to.
We hope to see the Knox and surrounding areas new case figures to stay low and stable.
Will we definitely reopen on Monday July 20th?
At this stage, that is our goal date. If our risk assessment findings start to indicate a higher level of risk, we will potentially extend the closure for safety of patients, our practitioners, and the doctor and staff of Together Medical Family Practice who we share facilities with.
What will happen when we reopen?
We'll continue to use our COVID19 Procedures that we created to maintain a clean and hygienic treatment environment. This includes continuing screening every person at every appointment they attend, and the longer periods between each appointment for ventilation and thorough sanitisation.
Our practitioners will be wearing masks, we'll be smiling underneath even though you can't see it!
The Together Medical Family Practice has also arranged a hygiene station at the front door for anyone who enters to use hand sanitiser and take a face mask.
Our waiting area has been rearranged to distance the chairs, and we are recommending that everyone waits in their car until we call you in to avoid the need to sit in the communal waiting room.
Who should you see if you urgently need an appointment while we are closed?
Our good friends at Tecoma Myotherapy are remaining open throughout the restrictions. Mat Richardson and his team are exceptionally caring and friendly therapists, offering Myotherapy and Remedial Massage. Let them know that we've asked them to take care of you while we are closed, we know you'll be in good hands.
Mel is a Myotherapist based in Ferntree Gully.