Dry needling, also known as myofascial trigger point dry needling is the use of hollow-core hypodermic needles for therapy of muscle pain. The practice relies on careful palpation of points by a properly trained therapist, which often correspond to both trigger points and/or motor points in the myofascial tissue.
Research supports that dry needling improves pain control, reduces muscle tension, normalises biochemical and electrical dysfunction of motor end plates, and facilitates an accelerated return to active rehabilitation.
Proper dry needling of a myofascial trigger point will elicit a local twitch response (LTR), which is an involuntary spinal cord reflex in which the muscle fibres in the taut band of muscle contract. The LTR indicates the proper placement of the needle in a trigger point. Dry needling that elicits LTRs improves treatment outcomes, and may work by activating endogenous opioids. The activation of the endogenous opioids is for an analgesic effect using the Gate Control Theory of Pain.