Functonal Dry Needling
Functional Dry Needling (FDN) is a technique physical therapists use (where allowed by state law) to treat myofascial pain. The technique uses a “dry” needle, one without medication or injection, inserted through the skin into areas of the muscle, known as trigger points.
FDN is not acupuncture, a practice based on traditional Chinese medicine and performed by acupuncturists. Dry needling is a part of modern Western Medicine principles, and supported by research 1.
FDN involves multiple advances of a filament needle into the muscle in the region of a “Trigger Point’. The aim of FDN is to achieve a local twitch response to release muscle tension and pain. FDN is an effective treatment for chronic pain of neuropathic origin with very few side effects.
This technique is unequaled in finding and eliminating neuromuscular dysfunction that leads to pain and functional deficits. The needle used is very thin and most subjects do not even feel it penetrate the skin. A healthy muscle feels very little discomfort with insertion of this needle. However if the muscle is sensitive and shortened or has active trigger points within it, the subject will feel a sensation like a muscle cramp -‘the twitch response’.
The patient also may feel a reproduction of “their” pain which is a helpful diagnostic indicator for the practitioner attempting to diagnose the cause of the patients symptoms. Patients soon learn to recognize and even welcome this sensation as it results in deactivating the trigger point, reducing pain and restoring normal length and function to the involved muscle.
1. Cummings MT, White AR. Needling therapies in the management of myofascial trigger point pain: a systematic review. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2001;82(7):986–992. Free Article.