The concept of dry needling was initiated due to the philosophical concepts of acupuncture in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).
Dry needling of myofascial trigger points was first developed in the 1800s and was formally researched by Dr Kellgren in 1930 and later by Dr Lewis in the 1940s. Dr Janet Travell who was President John F Kennedy’s physician further developed treatment of myofascial trigger points.
Dry needling can be performed following the pathway of the nervous system. For example, the pathway of the sciatic nerve and its branches can be followed for those with low back/sciatic pain; the brachial plexus and branches for those with neck/arm pain and the intercostal nerves for those with intercostal pain. Similarly, dry needling can be applied in those with headache/jaw pain.
Studies on animals demonstrate that needling with acupuncture needles releases endorphins which are the body’s natural pain reliever. Studies involving the use of brain scanning with Functional MRI and PET scans demonstrate that needling activates the somatosensory cortex and brain regions which promote pain relief. Thus, dry needling has neurophysiological effects in reducing pain and relaxation of muscle trigger points which can help you to improve function.