What is Trigger Point Needling?

Trigger Point Needling is a hands on technique that eliminates trigger points from muscles.  It is the best way to completely remove trigger points and is often more permanent than other manual trigger point therapies. 

Who does TP needling?

TP needling falls under the "scope of practice" of many health professionals.  Unfortunately, there are few regulations about how much training is required.  Erika Bourne, RN, CMTPT is the most experienced practitioner of Trigger Point Needling in Massachusetts.  She trained with Jan Dommerholt, DPT and Robert Gerwin, MD of Myopain Seminars, the original and most comprehensive program for TP needling.  She was certified in 2007 and has helped hundreds of people since then. She now is an instructor of needling techniques for Myopain Seminars.

Why is it sometimes called dry needling?

It is referred to as dry needling because it is derived from an older technique called trigger point injections.  These injections were "wet" meaning that they injected a liquid substance through a hypodermic needle.  Trigger point needling uses a solid filament needle and does not inject anything and so is called "dry". It is also called trigger point needling and intramuscular needling.

What is it?

A very fine solid filament needle is inserted into the muscle.  Prior to insertion the trigger point is located by palpating the muscle.  Often patients don't feel the needle insertion at all.  Once the needle goes into the trigger point, the muscle "twitches" which feels like a very quick muscle contraction.  There can be a cramping feeling that accompanies the twitch.  Often trigger points are clustered together so many twitches can be provoked in  a small area. Although the twitch is often not comfortable, it is a sign that that trigger point has been eliminated.  It is an essential part of the treatment.

How is needling different from trigger point injections?

Decades ago it was discovered that trigger points could be eliminated by doing injections into them.  Over time, it was realized that it didn't matter what substance was injected (local anesthetic, saline solution or botox).  The therapeutic part of the injection was the twitch response (discussed above).  Trigger point injections are still done and do work if the practitioner is skilled at palpating the trigger point, getting a twitch response and identifying referred pain patterns.  The downside of trigger point injections is that hypodermic needles are much larger than solid filament needles and therefore disrupt the tissue more and cause more bleeding.  Less trigger points can be treated at a time.  The local anesthetic that is used does numb the area for 1-2 hours but after that post treatment soreness is similar to the TP needling. 

 To view a video about trigger point needling click on image below.