Dry-needling, or western acupuncture, is a useful adjunct to Osteopathic treatment as it helps to reduce muscular spasm and tension by addressing the myofascial trigger points in muscle. These are discrete, hyperirritable nodules in a taut band of skeletal muscle which are palpable and tender during physical examination. They often cause muscle pain following trauma, injury, overuse, or strain. In some cases muscle pain persists long after resolution of the injury and may even refer to other parts of the body. This heralds the sensitized state, one of the features of a chronic pain disorder, in which the pain itself is the pathology and requires medical intervention for its resolution.
Dry needling has also been shown to be beneficial to tendon injury and in pain modification. Its use can help relieve symptoms in pain from muscular or ligamentous strain, arthritis, nerve irritation and discal or facetal neck/back pain.
Inserting a needle in to these trigger points can help to create a break in the reinforcing, dysfunctional, pain cycle and therefore decreases muscle contraction, nerve irritation and pain levels while improving flexibility. For example, acupuncture to the upper neck muscles often helps reduce headache and migraine symptoms and to the low back and leg can help with symptoms relating to sciatica, leg and low back pain.