Acupuncture and Trigger Point Dry Needling

Introduction to Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a treatment derived from ancient Chinese medicine in which fine needles are inserted at certain sites in the body for therapeutic or preventative purposes.

It is often seen as a form of complementary or alternative medicine, although it is used by many physiotherapist in practice in Australia and New Zealand.


Western medical acupuncture is the use of acupuncture after a proper medical diagnosis. It is based on scientific evidence that shows the treatment can stimulate nerves under the skin and in muscle tissue.

This results in the body producing pain-relieving substances, such as endorphins. It is likely these substances are responsible for any beneficial effects seen with this form of acupuncture.

Traditional acupuncture is based on the belief that an energy, or “life force”, flows through the body in channels called meridians. This life force is known as Qi (pronounced “chee”).

Practitioners who adhere to traditional beliefs about acupuncture believe that when Qi does not flow freely through the body, this can cause illness. They also believe acupuncture can restore the flow of Qi, and so restore health.

What is it used for?

Physiotherapists use acupuncture to treat a wide range of health conditions.

It is often used to treat pain conditions such as headache, lower back pain and osteoarthritis, but is also sometimes used in an attempt to help people with conditions ranging from infertility to anxiety and asthma. (Please note: Bodyworks Physiotherapy & Wellness do not provide acupuncture treatment for infertility, anxiety and asthma)

Acupuncture is occasionally utilised for injuries that are covered by ACC.

Having acupuncture

Some people experience side effects such as feeling drowsy or dizzy, but these are usually mild and short-lived.

How acupuncture is performed

Typically, an initial acupuncture session will involve an assessment, filling a medical history questionnaire and a physical examination, followed by insertion of the acupuncture needles.

Courses of treatment often involve up to 10 separate sessions, but this can vary.

Assessment and examination

The physiotherapist will first ask you about your general health and your medical history.

If your visit is because of a specific injury, they will ask about the injury and about any other treatment you may have received for it.

After this, the physiotherapist will carry out a physical examination.

Insertion of the needles

After taking an appropriate medical history, the physiotherapist will begin the insertion of the acupuncture needles. These needles are inserted into specific places on the body, called acupuncture points.

During the session, you will usually be asked to sit or lie down. You may also be asked to remove some clothes so the physiotherapist can access the relevant parts of your body.

The needles used are fine and are usually a few centimetres long. They are single-use, pre-sterilised needles and are disposed of immediately after use.

Physiotherapists choose specific points to place the needles based on your condition. From 1 to 12 points will typically be used during a session, and sometimes more depending on the number of symptoms you have.

The needles may be inserted just under the skin, or deeper so they reach muscle tissue. Once the needles are in place, they may be left in position for a length of time lasting from a few minutes up to around 30 minutes.

You may feel a tingling or a dull ache when the needles are inserted. You should not experience any significant pain. If you do, let your practitioner know straight away.

In some cases, your physiotherapist may rotate the needles or stimulate them with a mild electric current (known as electroacupuncture).

What Is Trigger Point Dry Needling?

Trigger point dry needling is an extremely effective technique that uses a very fine acupuncture needle to “deactivate” or “shut down” painful or knotted areas in your muscles.

Many of us have areas in our body that feel tense all the time or feel like a hard ball in the muscle. By inserting fine needles into these tight areas, we elicit a “twitch response” or a brief contraction followed by an immediate and long lasting relaxation. Because the needle can treat very deep parts of the muscle, the technique can achieve amazing pain relief that you never thought was possible.

Trigger point dry needling is used for:

  • Give you lasting pain relief from head to toe
  • Eliminate tension, wherever you hold it
  • Heal overuse injuries
  • Get rid of knots in muscles
  • Help muscles heal after injury
  • Release tight muscles
  • Speed healing time
  • Improve blood flow at a deep level
  • Stimulate a muscle to work better
  • Prevent injuries in the first place
  • Get people back exercising ASAP
  • Heal chronic injuries of muscles, tendons and joints

Will Trigger Point Dry Needling Help Me?

Does massage give you great relief, but doesn’t last as long as you would like?

People who have good results with massage but are disappointed when the discomfort returns will find trigger point dry needling a great way to get more long lasting relief.

Trigger point dry needling works best for people with overuse injuries, chronic pain, and sports injuries. We are able to treat nearly any muscle in the body and can treat the muscle at depths impossible with other types of bodywork.

Trigger point dry needling is a great way to get more out of your physiotherapist by allowing us to get rid of the deep knots and restrictions that have, up until now, been unreachable.

Trigger point dry needling is not appropriate for people with brand new injuries that are swollen and acutely painful. It is also not always appropriate for people who have excessively loose joints, but an evaluation will help us make that decision.

Does The Needle Hurt?

Because acupuncture needles are very fine and solid, they don’t hurt as they pass through the skin like a hollow injection needle does. The sensations people report are “deep aching”, “pressure”, “releasing”, “blood flow”, or “soreness”.

The needle is left in for a very short period of time, just long enough to relax the muscle. The procedure is repeated in different areas until the muscle returns to its normal, relaxed state.

Because we treat sensitive areas, there is some discomfort. However, short term discomfort is well worth tolerating considering the long term relief trigger point dry needling provides.

How Many Needles Will I Need?

We will start very slowly during the first session to give you a feel for the technique. The first session will focus on a few muscles that are key to your problem. These key areas can give you excellent relief with less soreness.

Subsequent treatments will target more specific areas to fine-tune the effect. Sessions are usually spaced 5-7 days apart and you should expect to feel a marked difference after only 1-2 sessions.

How Will I Feel After Trigger Point Dry Needling?

You will know positive change has occurred right after the session, because you will be sore in the way that you would feel after too much activity.

The muscle will feel fatigued and the soreness can last from a few hours to 1-2 days but should not interfere with your everyday activities.

We encourage you to be active during this time to keep the soreness to a minimum. After a day or so, you’ll experience a new feeling of less pain and tightness that will last. The chronic injury you thought was there to stay will actually start to improve.

Please call us today to give trigger point dry needling a try. You won’t believe how good you will feel!



Trigger Point Dry Needling (TDN)

What Is Trigger Point Dry Needling?

TDN is an extremely effective technique that uses a very fine acupuncture needle to “deactivate” or “shut down” painful or knotted areas in your muscles.

Many of us have areas in our body that feel tense all the time or feel like a hard ball in the muscle. By … Continue reading


ALTA Physical Therapy and Pilates