Electrotherapeutic Dry Needling: Switching Pain Off At The Spinal Cord

Electro Dry Needling is an advanced manual therapy technique used by an experienced therapist in the treatment of pain whether it be muscle, joint, tendon, ligament, nerve or to improve motor control and cutaneous skin sensation. This technique is done by inserting two acupuncture needles into an area of concern or importance. Alligator clips connected to an electro machine are then applied to the needles and depending on the desired outcome the settings of the machine are adjusted accordingly. Initially on insertion of the needle there may be a small sensation felt on the skin though this is usually the feeling of the guide tube getting pressed against the skin. On manipulation of the needle a deep ache or twitch is usually felt and this indicates a good location for the needle placement. When using electrotherapy on the needles to decreased hypertonicity or to improve activation of muscles a pulse is felt similar to that of a heartbeat and muscle contraction can be seen.

When using electrotherapy on the needles for the purpose of pain relief the sensation of a buzz or vibration is felt. Overall the treatment is painless and very effective when performed correctly.

SCARED OF NEEDLES? If you are scared of needles then don't worry as the machine also has an electro pen attachment which can perform electroneedling without the use of needles, however for deeper areas needles could be more beneficial in reaching particular depths. The electro pen can also be applied directly to nerves which can be of great benefit when treating neuropathic pain or decreased nerve activity.

How does Electrotherapeutic Needling work?

It works by sending an electrical impulse through the needles where an involuntary twitch occurs. Every time the muscles twitch calcium ion channels are opened, calcium flushes out and potassium flushes in. It also uses up all the local neuro transmitter Aceylcholine overall resulting in decreased tonicity, pain, disability and increased range of motion, blood flow and function. The mechanism of pain relief happens by sending a message up the spinal cord to pain modulating centres where the pain threshold is raised. It has also been found that there is a decrease of adrenaline in the brain and an increase of adrenaline in the spinal cord which has an antinociceptive effect (pain relief). After this, a message comes from the brain resulting in descending inhibition of nociception (decreased pain). Electro needling has been found to produce longer-lasting results than massage in the reduction of pain.

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