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Western Acupuncture - Dry Needling

Western Acupuncture and dry needling are tools used by some physiotherapists for specific conditions to relieve pain and excess muscle tension.

Western acupuncture utilises meridian points, however, applies these points to western medical reasoning with particular consideration to neurophysiology and anatomy. Western acupuncture does not utilise any traditional Chinese medicine assessment methods or paradigms.

How does Acupuncture work?

Dry Needling is targeted towards altered or dysfunctional tissue in order to improve or restore function. This may include the release of active trigger points in muscles where there is a palpable taut band due to an overall increase in tension in the muscle fibres. Active trigger points have been shown to significantly contribute to muscle imbalances and pain in many musculoskeletal disorders.

Utilisation of Western acupuncture and Dry needling within the context of physiotherapy is based on clinical reasoning as part of an overall management approach, that also includes appropriate joint mobilisation, stretching, strengthening and self management advice.

When is Acupuncture used?

Western acupuncture and Dry needling is used in conjunction with other conventional physiotherapy treatments at Castle Hill Physiotherapy and Sports Injuries Centre on selected patients to correct abnormal muscle activation patterns seen in common musculoskeletal conditions such as upper trapezius overuse, piriformis syndrome, lower back pain, neck pain and headaches. Recent Cochrane Collaboration reviews have shown to support the use of acupuncture and dry needling in the treatment of tension headaches, neck pain, chronic lower back pain and the prevention of migraines.

Physiotherapists undergo additional post graduate training in order to practice acupuncture and dry needling in Australia. Patients are also carefully screened for suitability of this treatment for any precautions or contraindications. A typical treatment regime would involve 4 to 6 sessions combined with stretching to inhibit unwanted muscle recruitment together with exercises to re-train correct muscle firing patterns.

The benefits of Acupuncture

Dry needling has been shown to be successful at diminishing spontaneous electrical activity in a muscle if a local twitch response is produced (Cummings and White 2001). Acupuncture has been shown to induce pain relief in patients with musculoskeletal disorders via the stimulation of A delta and C afferent nerve fibres.

Cummings, T.M., & White, A.R. (2001). Needling therapies in the management of myofascial trigger point pain: A systematic review. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 82, 986-992.