Modern acupuncture (also known as dry needling or Western medicine acupuncture) is an adaptation of traditional Chinese medicine acupuncture. Rather than focusing on concepts such as Ying/Yang and the circulation of Ch’i, we apply our current knowledge of anatomy, physiology, pathology and the principles of evidence-based medicine with modern acupuncture during a treatment session.
By way of an introduction, myofascial pain literally means pain coming from the muscles (myo is Latin for muscle and fascia is connective tissue beneath the skin, enclosing and separating muscles and other internal organs). Symptoms of myofascial pain may vary depending on its location, severity and chronicity. It can be constant or intermittent. Movement of the affected muscle or muscle group will aggravate myofascial pain, often stimulating other complaints such as a burning or stabbing sensation, muscle weakness and numbness or tingling. Aggravating factors for myofascial pain include prolonged sitting, cold weather, repetitive activities (such as driving, computer use and decorating) and stress.
Trigger points are hyperirritable spots in the fascia surrounding muscles. They cause muscles to become abnormally sensitive, resulting in tight bands of muscle or fascia that can stimulate either local pain or refer pain to another region of the body.
As osteopaths we regularly employ modern acupuncture as an adjunct to our other manual therapy techniques in the treatment of trigger points and myofascial pain. We aim to relax the affected muscle or muscle group as a result of the “micro trauma” effect of the acupuncture needle in the surface of the muscle(s) being treated.
Modern acupuncture is often pain-free. The needles we use are extremely fine (with a diameter as small as 0.2mm), they are sterile and we never re-use them so that they remain extremely sharp and easy to insert into the skin.
The relief from myofascial pain via modern acupuncture can be immediate. In other instances a course of treatments is required to deactivate the trigger points in a dysfunctional muscle or muscle group, reeducating the negative pain signals.