Functional dry needling

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What is Functional Dry Needling?

Functional  Dry Needling (FDN) is a technique often used by physical therapists.  This technique involves inserting a thin needle into an irritated muscle. FDN is a technique that focuses on muscles with hyper-irritable segments called myofascial trigger points. These trigger points can be painful and can potentially cause stiffness and restricted motion resulting in dysfunction for patients. FDN is an effective and efficient method to release these irritated segments.

How does FDN work?

Trigger points within these muscles have increased levels of chemicals that cause pain and inflammation while disrupting normal cellular functions. Trigger points also have diminished blood flow or ischemia causing soreness and abnormal muscle functioning. FDN causes a muscular twitch, resetting the chemical and acidic balance. The twitch response elicited by FDN also facilitates muscle fiber lengthening and pain modulation.

What can be treated with FDN?

  • Low back pain and sciatica
  • Neck pain and headaches
  • TMJ and facial pain
  • Relief from myofascial pain and fibromyalgia
  • Release of tight muscle causing range of motion loss and soreness
  • Tendonitis (inflammation of muscle tendons)
  • Tendinosis (degeneration of muscle tendons)
  • Rotator cuff strain and impingement
  • Hip pain and bursitis
  • Chronic dysfunctions such as Tennis Elbow and plantar fasciitis
  • Pelvic floor dysfunction
  • Running related injuries such as hamstring and calf strains

During Treatment:

  • The physical therapist will use an alcohol swab to clean the skin.
  • The physical therapist uses a thin, sterile acupuncture needle, which is usually 30-60mm in length, to penetrate the muscle and pinpoint the trigger point.
  • The needle is then removed.
  • The procedure lasts less than a minute.

The physical therapist may needle multiple trigger points within one treatment session. There may be minimal bleeding at the insertion site but resolves quickly.

After Treatment:

  • The physical therapist may then stretch the structures that were needled before the patient gets off the table.
  • The patient may feel sore in the muscle that was treated.
  • The patient may continue to feel discomfort for a few days after the treatment.