Trigger Point Dry Needling (TDN)

By: Amanda Fry PT, DPT, COMT

What is Trigger Point Dry Needling?

Trigger point dry needling (TDN) is a physical therapy intervention that uses a filiform needle to stimulate trigger points, as well as diagnose and treat neuromuscular pain and functional movement deficits. Trigger points are hyper-irritable spots in skeletal muscle tissue that are associated with a palpable nodule in a taut band. Active trigger points produce local tenderness and pain, and can refer pain in a predictable pattern. When stimulated manually or with a needle, active trigger points will reproduce familiar pain and induce a local twitch response.

What Does TDN Do?

When an active trigger point in a muscle is stimulated by a needle, a local twitch response occurs at the muscle. This local twitch response changes the electrical input to the muscle, which “resets” the muscle. Individuals may feel pain, ache, and/or twitching. Any discomfort typically resolves within 12-24 hours.

What Does TDN Treat?

TDN is effective in treating tennis elbow, Achilles tendinitis, acute and chronic low back pain, hip dysfunction, headaches, and neck pain. A thorough evaluation by a PT will determine if TDN may be a beneficial component of your treatment.

How is TDN Different from Acupuncture?

TDN focuses on the specific trigger points in each muscle of the body, as defined by Travel and Simons. Acupuncture is based on the use of Eastern Medicine Meridians and distal points that are away from the site of symptoms, but when addressed can create relief of symptoms. TDN does not treat these points, nor does it propose the treatment of any other ailments such as stress, allergies, GI disorders, etc. TDN is only for the release and treatment of myofascial trigger points and muscular pain.

Does Health Insurance Cover TDN?

Most major medical insurances will cover trigger point dry needling. Medicare and Medicaid do not cover TDN. If you have Medicare or Medicaid, we are happy to provide you with a cash pay option to cover this service.

Who at Blue Sky Provides TDN?

We have three physical therapists who are certified in trigger point dry needling: Hillary Joseph PT, MPT, COMTAmanda Fry PT, DPT, COMT and Kathleen Anderson, PT, DPT