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Western Musculoskeletal Acupuncture & Dry Needling

It is becoming increasingly common that Physiotherapists working in Private Practice, including us here at The Physio Space, utilise the treatment techniques of Western Musculoskeletal Acupuncture and Dry Needling. What exactly does this mean? Here Lauren explains what the different techniques are, why we use them and how it is different from traditional forms of Acupuncture.

Acupuncture involves the use of very fine, stainless steel needles that are inserted in to the skin to create a response from the Central Nervous System (CNS). These needles are sterile and for single patient use. Physiotherapists have the opportunity to do postgraduate study in Western Musculoskeletal Acupuncture. This involves learning specific acupuncture points that correspond to certain muscles to create pain relief and/or stimulate healing of injuries. This is not to be confused with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) where “traditional acupuncture” is used. TCM practitioners utilise acupuncture as part of a wide range of therapies to treat varied physical and psychological medical conditions.

Dry needling (DN) or intramuscular stimulation (IMS) as it is known in Canada and the USA, is a technique that is used on trigger points or “knots” in muscles, as well as ‘old injuries’ that have failed to heal well. DN utilises the same needles as Acupuncture, however the needle is moved differently. A technique known as “pecking” is used where the therapist moves the needle “in and out” of the tight muscle or trigger point to create a pain relieving and positive inflammatory response.

DN can elicit an involuntary “twitch” in the muscle when the trigger point is reached; once the twitch has occurred the muscle will then relax and be looser. The inflammatory response achieved with DN can re-start the healing process of old injuries that have either failed to heal or have had a long rehabilitation pathway.

The evidence base for Acupuncture or Dry Needling in various areas of Physiotherapy, has increased substantially over the past decade. In particular, research has grown to provide evidence-based support in the treatment of acute and chronic back pain, chronic neck pain, tension type and migraine headaches, pelvic girdle pain, knee osteoarthritis, lateral elbow pain and shoulder conditions.

If Acupuncture or Dry Needling is something you’ve always thought of trying, the Physiotherapists at The Physio Space can discuss with you how it could manage your condition. Give us a call to see what everyone is talking about!


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