FUNCTIONAL DRY NEEDLING - INTRAMUSCULAR STIMULATION (GUNN IMS)
WHAT IS FUNCTIONAL DRY NEEDLING?
Functional Dry Needling, or FDN, is a treatment technique that uses small, sterile filament needles to release muscular trigger points, tightness and spasm. It is called “dry needling” because it is an injection via a needle without any substance. It is the needle which is the tool of treatment.
The goal of FDN is to treat the neuromuscular system – reduce muscle pain, improve joint range of motion and allow a faster return to strengthening, exercise and full function. Physiotherapists are now using this technique all around the world to effectively treat acute and chronic orthopaedic and musculoskeletal conditions.
Myofascial trigger points (TPs) can develop in a muscle secondary to a variety of stressors i.e. injury, degenerative changes, faulty posture, repetitive motions and psychological or emotional factors. In addition, the trigger points are more likely to develop in tissue which are already sensitized due to i.e. disc dysfunction, decreased circulation and metabolic - biomechanical stresses. When muscles develop trigger points, the tension within the muscle can create compression on local vessels, nerves and joint structures – all of which will affect normal function of these tissues.
WHAT IS A TRIGGER POINT?
Myofascial Trigger Points (TPs) are hyper-irritable spots, usually found within a taut band of skeletal muscle or in the muscle’s fascia. These spots, or knots, are usually painful on compression and can give rise to familiar referred pain patterns, tenderness and autonomic phenomena, such as sweating, altered skin temperature and goose bumps. Research has demonstrated that there are numerous inflammatory and pain-producing chemicals at the site of an active trigger point, in addition to an increase in spontaneous electrical activity (SEA). The dry needle has been shown, when causing a twitch response in the muscle, to decrease the SEA and reduce the irritating chemicals.
Note that penetration of a normal muscle is usually painless, however a shortened supersensitive muscle will “grasp” the needle in what can be described as a cramping sensation. The result will be threefold. One, a stretch receptor in the muscle is stimulated, producing a reflex relaxation (lengthening). Two the needle also causes a small injury that draws blood to the area, initiating the natural healing process. Three, the treatment creates an electrical potential in the muscle to make the nerve function normally again. The needle used in IMS or FDN stimulates muscle spindles, and essentially becomes a specific and unique tool for the diagnosis and treatment of neuropathic muscle pain.
HOW WILL I FEEL DURING & AFTER A SESSION OF FDN-IMS?
During treatment the patient will often feel a significant cramping sensation from the twitch response followed by an immediate improvement of their symptoms. You may also feel sore in the areas that were treated for up to 24 hours . It is also common to feel tired, queasy, and/or emotional after treatment. This is a normal response that can last up to an hour or two after treatment.
WHAT SHOULD I DO AFTER TREATMENT?
It is highly recommended that you increase your water intake for the 24 hours following treatment to help avoid soreness. Soaking in a hot bath or hot tub will often alleviate post-treatment soreness.
The Killens Reid Physiotherapy Clinic have 4 physiotherapists that have completed the Functional Dry Needling
Louise Killens completed the GunnIMS course which is very similar in it’s approach to Functional Dry Needling. For more information on FDN or IMS please refer to our links section.