can dry needling cause headaches

can dry needling cause headaches

October 6, 2023

can dry needling cause headaches

EHS Physical Therapy & Chiropractic

Can Dry Needling Cause Headaches?

Dry needling is a physical therapy technique that uses fine filament/acupuncture needles to target muscle knots, also known as trigger points. These knots can cause pain and stiffness in muscles.

Trigger point dry needling can help relieve pain and enhance muscle function and performance. Physical therapists may include it in a treatment plan that also includes manual therapy, exercises or postural changes to address any underlying causes for discomfort.

Upper Trapezius

The upper trapezius muscle is a large muscle that crosses over the shoulders and helps elevate, extend, tilt and rotate the neck. It plays an essential role in moving our arms and head while working, playing or sleeping.

However, the upper trapezius muscles can also create painful trigger points that radiate pain to other parts of your body – this is known as myofascial pain.

Muscle atrophy can be caused by a number of factors, including repetitive low-level muscle contractions, strain, direct trauma to muscles, vitamin deficiencies and stress.

If you are experiencing a headache that originates in the upper trapezius region, dry needling can help relieve it. This technique works by targeting tight bands of muscle fibers known as myofascial trigger points (MTrPs).

Suboccipital Muscles

Headaches often originate from a group of muscles at the base of your skull, known as suboccipital muscles. When these become tense, you may experience pain in both your back of head and behind your eyes.

These muscles form a triangle at the back of your neck, directly below the base of your skull and connect to the first two vertebrae in your cervical spine. This triangle contains your rectus capitis posterior major, minor and inferior muscles as well as dorsal ramus of suboccipital nerve.

When these muscles become tense, you may experience a tension type of headache that feels like it wraps around your head and makes it difficult to turn your head to either side. This type of headache is commonly referred to as “ghost headache” and can be extremely painful.

Dry needling can be an effective treatment for knotted muscles and can reduce your pain within a short time. To determine if you’re eligible, your provider will perform a physical exam and ask you questions about the discomfort you’re feeling. If you would like to learn more, feel free to contact us.

Sternomastoid Muscle

The Sternomastoid Muscle (SCM) is one of the largest and most superficial muscles in the cervical spine. It flexes and rotates the head as well as acting as an accessory muscle of inspiration. SCM travels obliquely across one side of the neck before inserting at its target: mastoid process of temporal bone.

The SCM is thick and narrow in the center, but broader and thinner at either end of the neck. It is a substantial muscle that can cause pain throughout the neck, shoulders, upper back, and arms when tight or restricted.

Dry needling of the SCM can be effective in treating cervicogenic headaches, particularly when combined with joint manipulation. Furthermore, dry needling of the SCM has been known to improve self-reported pain and disability among subjects suffering from CGH.

Trigger Points

Dry needling is a treatment in which a doctor uses a thin needle to penetrate into muscles and trigger trigger points (TrPs), knotted areas that may cause headaches.

Trigger points often form in muscles when blood flow is restricted and metabolic wastes aren’t being exchanged for oxygen and nutrients. Over time, this can lead to chronic pain from these areas.

Referred pain can also spread to other parts of the body, such as your head. This referred discomfort may lead to migraines or tension-type headaches.

Treatment of myofascial trigger points includes trigger point release massage. This technique targets the specific muscle with a trigger point and uses periods of pressure to loosen it from its knot. If you are experiencing back pain and sciatica, this treatment might be helpful for you.

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