Ok so I have been seeing Mark Kane for several weeks now regarding the nerve issue in my hind end. It has been an interesting experience to say the least. When Mark first suggested Trigger Point Dry Needling I was very excited about the concept. I have received the needling four times now with each session leaving me with a whirlwind of emotion.
What are trigger points?
I will admit my ignorance here. When the words “trigger points” are spoken I immediately think of a power button type scenario. I thought trigger points were simply points on the body when pressed another point of the body was stimulated/effected. I guess I was confusing trigger points with something like the theory behind reflexology. Reflexolgy theorizes parts of the body like the hands and feet reflect the body as a whole and applying pressure to your heel, for example, stimulates your pancreas. However there is a medical definition of a trigger point even though there is a little bit of debate about it. Generally speaking a trigger point is a knot in the skeletal muscle fiber that is tender when pressure is applied. What makes a trigger point different from a simple sore muscle is localized discomfort that can refer or radiate to other parts of the body when aggravated. Trigger points can be a source of pain but also a source of weakness and a decreased range of motion.
And the needles?
The needles are similar to those used in acupuncture techniques. They are fine needles and when inserted properly they are barely detected. However, once they are in the trigger point, the muscle involuntarily spasms or “twitches” (this is where Mark will likely yell out “BAM”). The twitches are a good thing. The spasms of the muscle help to loosen the band of tight muscle creating the trigger point while promoting blood flow and healing in the area.
Does nothing come free?
While the positive effects of the needling are immediate they come at a cost. The more spasms that occur with the needling the more the muscle is worked and the more sore it becomes. The soreness is significantly different than the tenderness elicited by the trigger point but the soreness is almost as immediate as the relief and worsens before it disappears.
Normally I like pain, especially good pain. . . the pain of digging deep, the pain associated with rolling my IT band, the pain felt when my massage therapist hits that gold mine between my shoulder blades. I would not say Trigger Point Dry Needling is painful but the muscle spasms are shocking. It took two sessions before I realized Mark was not pushing in the needles because I was an obstinate patient, it was my own muscles going crazy. Mark was just really good at finding the gold mines (or should I call them land mines?). Then there is the soreness . . . the lasting impression . . . the gift that keeps on giving . . . the reminder to be good little patient and do my prescribed exercises . . . .
What did I learn?
I tend to giggle when I am uncomfortable. Confusing the pain and pleasure response is not a good thing to do while on the PT table. But I can't wait to do it again.