Trigger Point Dry Needling

Dry needling is a skilled intervention that uses a thin filiform needle to penetrate the skin and stimulate underlying myofascial trigger points, muscular, and connective tissues for the management of neuromusculoskeletal pain and movement impairments. Dry needling (DN) is a technique used to treat dysfunctions in skeletal muscle, fascia, and connective tissue, and, diminish persistent peripheral nociceptive input, and reduce or restore impairments of body structure and function leading to improved activity and participation.

Description of Dry Needling in Clinical Practice

David G. Simons, MD, co-author of the Simons, Travell, and Simons Trigger Point Manual, has stated that, “Since no medical specialty claims skeletal muscle as their organ, it is often overlooked.”

Indeed, several studies have confirmed that myofascial pain is one of the most commonly ignored causes of persistent pain. Many of our patients report that previous healthcare providers rarely have included the detailed and specific muscle examination that is common at MOST. The hallmark feature of myofascial pain syndrome is a so-called “trigger point,” which can be responsible for prolonged pain and dysfunction. A common characteristic of trigger points is referred pain, which may confuse those clinicians who are not familiar with common referred pain patterns. Dr. Janet Travell, MD, perhaps best known as President Kennedy’s White House physician, has mapped out the referred pain patterns of most skeletal muscles.

Although trigger points and myofascial pain are poorly recognized worldwide, there is a growing number of scientific studies that confirm that trigger points are indeed a very common source of pain and dysfunction. Physical therapists at MOST are very involved with researchers and clinicians worldwide and are among the world’s top specialists in myofascial pain syndrome. Trigger point dry needling is one of the most effective treatment options to inactivate myofascial trigger points.

Ralph Simpson is certified in trigger point dry needling through Myopain Seminars and Dr Jan Dommerholt. Dr. Dommerholt was the first physical therapist in the United States to teach trigger point dry needling courses and injection techniques to physicians, dentists, physical therapists, and other eligible health care providers. Several course instructors from other continuing education companies studied with Dr. Dommerholt.

He has published several articles about trigger point dry needling.

Have questions about dry needling? You might find the answers in this Dry Needling FAQ (pdf) publication. The sections Resources for Patients and Resources for Professionals on this site feature several other articles about myofascial pain.

More resources:

Posterior Knee Pain Dry Needling
Short-Term Changes Dry Needling

Headaches and Dry Needling
Frozen Shoulder and Dry Needling
Hamstring Strain and Dry Needling
Evidence of Dry Needling

For more information about trigger point dry needling and myofascial trigger point therapy, please do not hesitate to contact Dr. Ralph Simpson, PT, DPT, OCS, CMPT, CMTPT, LATC at 406-862-2348.