Deep Tissue Needling

What is it?

Deep tissue needling is a western development using the same needles as used by a traditional acupuncturist.

How do we use it?

Deep tissue needling the erector spinae muscle in the lower backIt works by identifying and then releasing trigger points in a muscle which is tight or has gone into spasm by using a needle. The way a point is needled is different and a slightly thicker (0.3mm) needle is usually used, as it is a little stiffer.

First I identify a trigger point in a muscle (either active or latent) by palpation. Next I insert the needle slowly and gently, and then  “pump” it about 1/8 inch back and forth through the trigger point, which causes it to release.

The extension of a muscle is usually very much improved, and pain or restriction of movement relieved using this technique.

When experiencing this myself, during training in the technique, I felt a dull achey sensation whilst this was being done, which is the same as reported to me by patients I have treated.

What is it good for?

I have found it especially good for very stiff / tight shoulders (top edge of trapezius muscle) and also lower-back muscles (erector-spinae). See photo above.

It is also one of few ways to release the sub-scapularis muscle which lies underneath the shoulder blade, and often gets very stiff/goes into spasm if the shoulder is jerked or over extended.

What actually happens inside?

Recent research has shown how the needling of the point, apart form causing the muscle trigger point to release, It actually causes improved internal lubrication in the fascia- by causing the fluid channels to multiply – a simple and fascinating process.

Images were obtained of this multiplying of the fluid (lubrication) vessels in the fascia, using an ultrasound microscope to see what changes occurred whilst the needle was inserted. This was a fascinating piece of filming to watch!

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