DRY NEEDLING | MEDICAL ACUPUNCTURE
Medical Acupuncture is a different form of Chinese acupuncture. It is an effective and efficient technique for the treatment of muscular pain and myofascial dysfunction. Medical Acupuncture is a technique developed by Dr. Chan Gunn and is extremely effective for relaxing overactive muscles, which contain trigger points.
In simple terms, the treatment involves needling of a muscle's trigger points with very fine acupuncture needles.
The approach is based on Western anatomical and neurophysiological principles. It should not to be confused with the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) technique of acupuncture. However the same filament needles are used in both Medical Acupuncture and Chinese acupuncture. Medical Acupuncture is quick and effective and we have great success with its use here at Select Sports Massage
What is Medical Acupuncture?
It is a treatment technique whereby a sterile, single-use, fine filament needle (acupuncture needle) is inserted into the muscle to assist with reducing pain and improving function through the release of myofascial trigger points (knots in muscle).
What is the Difference Between Medical Acupuncture and Chinese Acupuncture?
Medical Acupuncture is not the same as acupuncture, although there are similarities between the two techniques. The main difference between Medical Acupuncture and Chinese acupuncture is the theory behind why the methods work. Medical Acupuncture's primarily focused on the reduction of pain and restoration of function through the release of myofascial trigger points in the muscle. In comparison, Chinese acupuncture focuses on the treatment of medical conditions by restoring the flow of energy (Qi) through critical points in the body (meridians) to restore balance.
What is a Myofascial Trigger Point?
A myofascial trigger point, also known as a knot in the muscle, is a group of muscle fibres which have shortened when activated but have not been able to lengthen back to a relaxed state after use. A myofascial trigger point develops a sensitive nodule in the muscle (Simons, Travell & Simons, 1999). This hypersensitivity occurs as the muscle fibres become so tight that they compress the capillaries and nerves that supply them (McPartland, 2004; Simons et al., 1999). As a result, the muscle is unable to move frequently, obtain a fresh blood supply containing oxygen and nutrients, or flush out additional acidic chemicals (McPartland, 2004; Simons et al., 1999). In addition to this nodule, the remainder of the muscle also tightens to compensate (Simons et al., 1999; Simons, 2002). The presence of a myofascial trigger point in a muscle can lead to discomfort with touch, movement and stretching; to decreased joint motion; and even a temporary loss of coordination (Simons et al., 1999).
How Does Medical Acupuncture Work?
Medical Acupuncture assists with decreasing local muscular pain and improving function through the restoration of a muscle’s natural ability to lengthen and shorten by releasing myofascial trigger points.
What Does Medical Acupuncture Do?
When the delicate filament needle inserts into the centre of a myofascial trigger point, blood pools around the needle triggering the contracted muscle fibres to relax. It also helps to provide those fibres with fresh oxygen and nutrients, as well as by flushing away any additional acidic chemicals. This reaction, in turn, leads to the decompression of the local blood and nerve supply.
What Causes a Myofascial Trigger Point?
A myofascial trigger point develops as part of the body’s protective response following:
Injury – the muscle will tighten in an attempt to reduce the severity of an injury
Unexpected movements, e.g. descending a step that is lower than initially anticipated
Quick movements, e.g. looking over your shoulder while driving
Change in regular activity or muscle loading, e.g. an increase in the number or intensity of training sessions for sport
Sustained postures, e.g. prolonged sitting for work or study
Nerve impingement – the muscle will tighten to protect the nerve
Illness (bacterial or viral)
Nutritional deficiencies, or
Metabolic and endocrine conditions
(Simons, et al., 1999)
When Is Medical Acupuncture Treatment Recommended?
Dry needling can assist in treatment:
to help release myofascial trigger points (muscle knots);
to assist with pain management,
to restore movement at a joint if inhibited by myofascial trigger points.
What Will You Feel During Medical Acupuncture Treatment?
During a Medical Acupuncture treatment, you may feel a mild sensation as the needle inserts and withdraws. Patients don’t report any discomfort during needle manipulation.
A brief muscle twitch may occur during a Medical Acupuncture treatment. This twitch may happen when the needle directly stimulates a myofascial trigger point.
Where Does Medical Acupuncture Fit Within Your Rehabilitation Program?
Medical Acupuncture is one of many techniques that can be utilised by your therapist to assist with your rehabilitation. We combine Medical Acupuncture with other soft tissue techniques, including massage, manual therapy, and exercise prescription.
What are the Side Effects of Medical Acupuncture?
Every form of treatment can carry an associated risk. Your therapist can explain the risks and can determine whether Medical Acupuncture is suitable for you based on your injury and your general health.
When Medical Acupuncture occurs, single-use, sterile needles are always used and disposed of immediately after use into a certified sharps container.
Is Medical Acupuncture Safe?
Everybody is different and can respond differently to various treatment techniques, including Medical Acupuncture. In addition to the benefits that Medical Acupuncture can provide, some side effects may occur, including spotting or bruising, fainting, nausea, residual discomfort or even altered energy levels. However, these symptoms should last no longer than 24 to 48 hours after treatment.
Can You Exercise After Medical Acupuncture?
We recommend avoiding strenuous or high impact activities immediately after Medical Acupuncture, to allow the body time to recover, and to maximise the benefits of the treatment. (Physio Works Australia)