Trigger point acupuncture, sometimes called dry needling is a different technique of acupuncture that can be offered as part of your personalised treatment plan.
Trigger points (or Myofascial Trigger Points to give them their full title) are tiny knots that develop within a muscle when it is injured or overworked by, for example, poor posture, repetitive stain or direct trauma such as a fall or sporting injury.
These points are defined as localised areas in which the muscles and connective tissues are highly sensitive to pain when compressed. Pressure and stimulation of these points can send referred pain to other specific areas of the body often causing people to think they have multiple unrelated problems.
The technique is a more direct and aggressive approach for dealing with myofascial trigger points than the traditional approach to acupuncture.
The trigger point is first located using palpation by your practitioner. A fine acupuncture needle is then inserted into the muscle at the site of the trigger point. The needle is then manoeuvred and manipulated until a twitch is felt from the muscle at which time the needle is then removed.
The effects of trigger point acupuncture are usually rapid and in some cases instantaneous, with patients often reporting an immediate ease in their symptoms and an increase in their range of movement.
It is common for you to experience soreness and very occasional mild bruising after treatment of this kind, which in most cases lasts from a few hours up to a couple of days, in which time care should be taken in everyday activities until the soreness subsides.
Studies have shown that acupuncture can reduce pain by altering the way in which nerves within the brain respond to a painful stimulus by releasing special chemicals called endorphins. It also causes a localised increase in blood-flow to the area where the needles are inserted. It reduces inflammation and decreases the amount of pain-causing chemicals present, often caused by tissue injury. Acupuncture also helps to reduce muscle spasm and tension, which is often responsible for much of the pain experienced by people with musculoskeletal injuries.
David has undergone postgraduate training with the British Medical Acupuncture Society (BMAS) and is able to offer medical acupuncture. This is often done in combination with osteopathy, but can be performed as a stand-alone treatment.
Acupuncture involves the insertion of very fine needles (less than a third of a millimetre thick) into the body and has been used for thousands of years as a method of relieving pain and treating illness, but until recently we have known little, scientifically speaking, about how it works. Advances in modern medicine now allow us to understand the mechanisms which make acupuncture effective and it is this approach which makes Western Medical Acupuncture different from Traditional Chinese Acupuncture.
Acupuncture is a very safe form of treatment when it is administered by a trained professional. David has several years of experience giving acupuncture treatments and only uses single-use sterile needles, therefore the risk of infection from an acupuncture treatment is very, very small. There are some minor side-effects which patients may experience during or after treatment and include: soreness, mild bruising, tiredness and occasionally the feeling of faintness.
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Trigger points (shown as 'X') in the trapezius muscle, leading to neck pain and headaches (red shaded area)
Trigger points in the infraspinatus muscle (a shoulder or rotator cuff muscle) leading to arm and forearm pain that can often mimic a trapped nerve in the neck
Trigger points in the gluteus minimus muscle leading to referred pain in the leg. This muscle frequently mimics a trapped sciatic nerve or "sciatica"