Dry Needling for Knee Pain to Reduce Knee Osteoarthritis Pain

Dry Needling for Knee Pain to Reduce Knee Osteoarthritis Pain Blog  Knee pain

Knee pain is one of the most common causes of disability and mobility issues in individuals over the age of 30. Often caused by knee osteoarthritis, this pain can be so severe that it is the leading cause for knee replacement surgery worldwide. However, invasive surgery comes with its own set of risks and side effects, leaving many patients who suffer from chronic knee pain looking for other answers to help relieve their discomfort. Trigger point therapy that utilizes dry needling techniques has been shown to effectively reduce the pain and mobility issues associated with knee osteoarthritis.

The Link Between Myofascial Pain and Knee Osteoarthritis

A common treatment for extreme joint and muscle pain is known as trigger point injection. During these procedures, a patient is assessed for myofascial pain, which is characterized by:

  • Deep and aching muscles pain
  • Muscle pain that is persistent and doesn’t get better
  • Tender, tense knots along muscles
  • Tense bands of muscles

Myofascial pain originates in the muscles due to dysfunction of the fascia. Fascia is the connective tissues which surround muscles.

Trigger point injections consist of targeted medication delivery to certain points of a patient’s musculature. Often consisting of anti-inflammatory medication, muscle relaxants or pain relievers, these medication injections are initially quite painful. However, following a spasm of the muscles, many patients with knee osteoarthritis experience relief from their knee pain. To practitioners of dry needling therapy, it is clear that trigger points play a large role in the stiffness, loss of motion and chronic pain of this knee disorder.

Myofascial Pain – An Interconnected Disorder

This pain disorder of the musculature and connective tissues is still not fully understood. Despite many studies and investigations into the possible causes of why people experience this problem, no clear reason for its development have been established. Coupled by the fact that there are no laboratory or imaging tests to diagnose its presence, people who suffer from chronic soft tissue pain often feel frustrated and misunderstood.

However, trigger point therapy is an evidence-based method of treatment that is helping to uncover the mysteries of chronic pain. For people with knee pain, the link between osteoarthritis and trigger points may help to prevent costly and risky knee surgeries. Many patients with knee issues experience the following similar myofascial symptoms along with osteoarthritis:

  • Standard locations of tender knots and taut muscle bands
  • Pain that originates in the leg muscles, but is experienced, or referred, to the knee joint
  • Swift and positive reaction to trigger points being needled

Dry Needling – A Scientifically Based Pain Therapy

Dry needling for knee pain is not to be confused with acupuncture or any other form of trigger point therapy. This dynamic and cutting-edge treatment modality is based upon scientific findings concerning the anatomy and physiology of the human body. This field of trigger point therapy utilizes:

  • Imaging technology to observe the twitch response of muscles
  • Ultrasound shock technology to further encourage muscle response to needle penetration
  • Compression therapy to promote isolation of the therapeutic muscle twitch response

This form of minimally invasive therapy works due to the aforementioned local twitch response (LTR). When a therapist inserts a needle into a trigger point, this area is already tense and sensitized, so needle stimulation induces a muscle spasm. The mechanics of why and how a trigger point stimulated by needle insertion causes the LTR are not fully understood, but theories postulate that the spasm disrupts the pain response in the human body. Once the muscle spasm has completed, the trigger point is often less palpable to the therapist and less painful to the patient.

How Can Dry Needling Help Knee Osteoarthritis Patients in New York City?

This form of therapy is a valuable tool in pain management and has helped thousands of osteoarthritis patients rediscover a high quality of life. While needling won’t cure the actual bone and tissue changes that are associated with arthritic conditions, it is a high-impact form of pain therapy that is safe and practical for nearly any individual. Aside from pain reduction, patients who undergo this form of treatment often experience the following additional benefits:

  • Increased energy
  • Better sleep
  • Improved mood
  • Greater flexibility and range of motion

For patients who are seeking a non-surgical alternative for painful knee conditions, New York Dynamic Neuromuscular Rehabilitation & Physical Therapy (NYDNR) offers this service in a state-of-the-art clinical setting. Highly trained doctors, therapists and technicians deliver compassionate care in a welcoming environment. At NYDNR, the focus is on developing a comprehensive treatment plan to address all possible causes of pain and dysfunction. With an interdisciplinary approach that is guaranteed to render positive results, New York residents have looked to this clinic for relief and care for well over a decade.

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In this instance, an athlete was originally diagnosed with minor quadriceps muscle strain and was treated for four weeks, with unsatisfactory results. When he came to our clinic, the muscle was not healing, and the patients’ muscle tissue had already begun to atrophy.

Upon examination using MSUS, we discovered that he had a full muscle thickness tear that had been overlooked by his previous provider. To mitigate damage and promote healing, surgery should have been performed immediately after the injury occurred. Because of misdiagnosis and inappropriate treatment, the patient now has permanent damage that cannot be corrected.

The most important advantage of Ultrasound over MRI imaging is its ability to zero in on the symptomatic region and obtain imaging, with active participation and feedback from the patient. Using dynamic MSUS, we can see what happens when patients contract their muscles, something that cannot be done with MRI. From a diagnostic perspective, this interaction is invaluable.

Dynamic ultrasonography examination demonstrating
the full thickness tear and already occurring muscle atrophy
due to misdiagnosis and not referring the patient
to proper diagnostic workup

Demonstration of how very small muscle defect is made and revealed
to be a complete tear with muscle contraction
under diagnostic sonography (not possible with MRI)

image

Complete tear of rectus femoris
with large hematoma (blood)

image

Separation of muscle ends due to tear elicited
on dynamic sonography examination

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