Functional Dry Needling

What is Functional Dry Needling (FDN)?

Trigger points are tight, irritated bands of muscle tissue that form as a result of trauma, either in the form of repetitive strain or acute injury.   Trigger points can result in local or referred pain, including headaches, and limitations in strength, flexibility, range of motion, circulation and nerve conduction. 

Functional Dry Needling involves the insertion of thin filiform needles directly into dysfunctional muscle tissue or “trigger points”.  The needle is inserted with the goal of eliciting a “twitch” response either by direct manipulation of the needle within the muscle or by introducing a mild (no painful) electrical current through the needle.   Production of this twitch response has been shown to have beneficial effects both locally at the level of the muscle and centrally at the level of the nervous system. 

Specifically, Functional Dry Needling has been shown to:

  • Decrease pain and tightness in muscle tissue
  • Improve flexibility and joint range of motion
  • Improve nerve function and firing patterns and decrease nerve tension
  • Restore and regulate muscle activity and muscle firing patterns
  • Increase blood flow, in turn bringing oxygen and nutrients to the affected area to assist in the natural healing process of the injured tissues
  • Restore the natural pH of the muscle tissue (dysfunctional muscle tissue often becomes acidic)
  • Reduce or even eliminate pain by causing the body to release natural painkillers called “endorphins”, which block the passage of pain signals to the brain

How is Functional Dry Needling different from Acupuncture?

Acupuncture and Functional Dry Needling are similar in the fact that both techniques involve the insertion of fine needles for therapeutic purposes.  However, the two techniques differ greatly in theory and practice. 

Traditional Chinese Acupuncture involves the insertion of fine needles into the skin along energy channels known as meridians. The goal is to redirect the flow of vital energy (Qi) in the body to treat disease. The needles are left in place for up to 60 minutes to obtain maximum therapeutic effect. It has been practiced for over 2500 years in China and has become a well recognized therapeutic intervention in the Western world for a variety of physiological and psychological ailments.

Functional Dry Needling (FDN) is grounded in the theories of modern Western medicine and anatomy.  The needles are similar to those used for acupuncture but are inserted deeper into the soft-tissues with the goal of targeting the specific structures believed to be the underlying cause of the neuro-musculo-skeletal dysfunction. The needles are left in for short periods, usually less than 1 minute.  The twitch response, produced by inserting the needle into the muscle tissue, is responsible for the therapeutic effect.

A twitch response is not the goal of traditional acupuncture.  In other words, both the goal and the target tissue differ between the two treatments.

Is Functional Dry Needling safe?

No drug is injected with either acupuncture or Functional Dry Needling (FDN).  The muscle twitch response created by the needle insertion alone creates the beneficial effect with FDN. This makes dry needling an extremely safe treatment, with serious adverse reactions reported at a rate of less than 0.01-0.1%.  

Common adverse reactions to FDN include temporary post-treatment muscle soreness and muscle fatigue, usually lasting a few hours up to a couple of days, temporary aggravation of symptoms, headaches and bruising. These types of reactions occur at a rate of 1-10%

What conditions or symptoms can Functional Dry Needling be used to treat?

Functional Dry Needling (FDN) can be used to effectively treat a wide array of conditions ranging from general muscle tension and discomfort to pain. Below are some conditions that can be effectively treated or managed with FDN:

  • Headaches
  • Neck pain
  • Low back pain
  • TMJ disorders
  • Rotator cuff tears/tendonitis
  • Bursitis
  • Jumper’s knee
  • Patellofemoral pain syndrome
  • ITB syndrome
  • Sciatica
  • Piriformis syndrome
  • Nerve entrapment issues such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Bunions
  • Metatarsalgia
  • Ankle sprains
  • Achilles tendinopathy
  • Tennis Elbow
  • Golfer’s Elbow
  • Hand and wrist pain

Dr. Dawn is our studio Functional Dry Needling expert and is extremely proficient in helping patients to feel better fast. To learn more about Functional Dry Needling and how it may benefit you, book your FDN consultation with Dr Dawn today by clicking on the BOOK an APPOINTMENT NOW button below.