Can Dry Needling and Acupuncture Work Together?
Dry Needling vs. Acupuncture: Releasing Trigger Points while Opening up Qi flow
People often ask whether Dry Needling and Acupuncture Together work as well as either alone? In fact the most sophisticated understanding of Dry Needling is to recognize that our bodies are meshes of fascia that extend well beyon the origin and insertion of an individual muscle on one or two bones.
This is why its so important to have a global sense of the body when releasing Trigger points with Dry Needling. And its something they ancient Chinese describe clearly in the Ling Shu, our earliest text, when it describes the Sinew channels. They used the Chinese word that translates as Sinew for what we would now refer to as fascia.
That is why each of our major Acupuncture channels, in addition to having the main channel where our “points” are located on, also have a sinew channel that dovetails very very closely to the actual pathways of the fascia. And its why, for example, when a patient comes in with severe trigger point pain in the Quadratus Lumborum, that you can needle distal “acupuncture” points in the fascial pathway that runs down the tibialus anterior to the space between the big and second toe, and actually release the QL very effectively. At the same time, if you ONLY do that, you will miss the chance to Dry needle the motor entry point of the QL which will take the Quardratus Lumborum all the way out of its “locked tight” condition.
This is just one example why Dry Needling can be combined with the prinicples of Acupuncture therapy for even a single Myofascial pain condition.
But what happens when a patient comes in with a mixed pattern, such as the stressed out middle aged woman I saw today with Neck Pain, but also Vertigo and Dizziness? There is not Dry Needling treatment for dizziness. No one goes to the physical therapist P.T. for dizziness, but they do come to Acupuncture for Dizzyness. And dizziness, unless its a middle ear or brain pattern, is always an Internal Medicine pattern that I treat with Classical chinese herbal medicine and Acupuncture. But neck pain , cervical pain, is something i generally treat primarily with dry needling, because I want to physically release the muscle. Having said that, i will often combine that Dry Needling therapy with Classical Channel theory to release the fascia from distal points.
This particular patient presented with what ChineseMedicine describes as chronic Liver Depression Qi Stagnation that contributes to the tight muscles and fascia in the neck, but which developed after trauma to her neck from an overagressive Chinese massage therapist at one of those inexpensive Chinese massage place. And while her dizziness also developed after that massage, it can become aggravated with excessive stress, which shows us the role of the nervous system. In Classical ChineseMedicine LiverDepression QiStagnation describes many of the symptoms that we in the West categorize under the very general and unhelpfully vague category of stress.
In fact, what we describe as “stress” is usually a way of describing our individual reaction to stressors, ergo, our stressresponse. The stress response is the fightflightfreeze response. We are biologically hard wired to respond to real or perceived danger with either fighting, fleeing, or freezing. And this wiring produces a cascade of physical responses from muscle tension to high blood pressure to a sudden rush of downward energy into the legs, that is perfectly normal when you must fight an enemy or flee a tsunami, but not so much when you are simply afraid of the dark or hate your job.
This nervous system – brain programming is a two way street. Frustrating and scary things put us into the fight/flight response with all of its concrete physical responses, whether we actually need to fight or flee…An example is getting impatient at the red light even when you are not in a hurry. Acupuncture is a super effective therapy for getting us out of the fight or flight response. And DryNeedling is a super effective therapy for getting our muscles and fascia out of the locked short patterns developed from injury or tension or both…
Chinese Herbal Medicine Combines with Dry Needling
With its long history of Martial Arts, Chinese medicine developed fabulous formulas for Sports Injury and Pain. Dry needling, Acupuncture, and Chinese herbs are a winning combination in the treatment of Low back pain, sports injury, trigger point pain.
My favorite Chinese herbal formula for Bulging discs, herniated discs, and chronic low back pain is ProBotannix Shu Jin 2. Shu means “relax”. Jin is the connective tissue or fascia that is the lattice work that muscles are organized by. Shu Jin 2 combines herbs that relieve pain with herbs that reduce inflammation and improve circulation.