Needle Knots Away

By Lindsay Wilson

Plagued by a deep muscle pain massage can’t touch? You may consider dry needling to release that stubborn knot. Not to be confused with acupuncture, which is founded in Eastern theory and focuses on the movement of energy through meridians, or channels, in the body, dry needling is actually a Western modality based on muscle physiology and used largely by physical therapists. The technique employs thin needles that penetrate deep into a muscle knot or trigger point, causing the muscle to release and relax. According to Marci Catallo-Madruga, DPT, who practices dry needling in Lone Tree, Colorado, dry needling allows therapists to get deep into muscles that they can’t access with their hands. The therapist palpates the muscle to find the trigger point and then inserts the needle into it to generate a “twitch response.” This helps balance the sodium and potassium in the muscle, thus relaxing the knot, Catallo-Madruga says. Dry needling may increase inflammation and swelling in an acute injury, so it’s best to try the therapy for chronic muscle tension.