Functional dry needling (FDN), previously called Trigger Point Dry Needling (TDN) or Intramuscular Manual Therapy (IMT), is a treatment for muscular tightness and spasm. These “knots” or spasms develop from an injury, poor posture, or disease process and can cause compression and irritation of the nerves exiting the spine and anywhere along their pathway. When the nerves are irritated they can cause a protective spasm to any of the muscles along their pathway.
Dry needling is the use of thin, small, sterile needles to de-activate trigger points in the muscles that cause a replication of the pain pattern. The muscles then contract and release. This contracting and releasing improves muscle flexibility, removes the source of irritation, promotes healing (produces local inflammation which is necessary to produce healing), and decreases the spontaneous electrical activity at the trigger points. It is not traditional acupuncture, energy treatment or sham treatment.
Trigger point dry needling is an appropriate adjunctive treatment for all musculoskeletal dysfunctions. Patients do commonly report an immediate pain reduction and/or elimination after eliciting a local twitch response but may experience soreness for one to two days post-treatment.
Under the Colorado Physical Therapy Practice Act, therapists who have undergone substantial training in the areas of reducing the incidence and severity of physical disability, movement dysfunction, bodily malfunction, and pain are licensed to perform this skill. Incorporating FDN with other manual and rehabilitative methods has been shown to be very effective in improving and hastening outcomes.