Trigger Point Dry Needling

If you’ve been reading for a while, you may recall that I have had chronic achilles tendonitis for the past 10 years or so. It kept me from running for a long time, until I decided it wasn’t going to anymore. I tried to be super smart about it–I only run 3 times per week (most weeks), and try to never run consecutive days. My body just doesn’t particularly like it, so I try to thank it for putting up with me and carrying me to a few finish lines. I also try to ice every day that I run, and for a while my body was holding up great, but when I started to feel more significant pain, I started going to physical therapy.

You may remember when I wrote my post about the Astym. Let me tell you, that was fun. Every session I was like “KT, do I get astym today?!?! She would be like “Calm down, Ari. I know you love astym, but sometimes my soft, gentle calf massages are so much better.” Yeah, astym is not fun and it is super painful, and so are KT’s massages, but it really was helping. The last time I got it done, I was whining and crying like a pathetic baby taking it like a champ, and one of the other therapists suggested I get the dry needling. He said it would hurt less than astym. Ummmm, you want to stick needles into my legs and shake them around?!?!?! I politely said no thank you, and have skirted the subject ever since.

I’d actually been considering it a little bit since. They explained that it’s essentially like hitting the “reset” button on a muscle that has been tight for a significant amount of time and hasn’t been cured with massage and foam rolling. My calves have two settings–tight, and ridiculously tight. Finally yesterday as KT was massaging and said “You need a needle in here!” I nervously agreed.

They handed me a special consent form, and I immediately got even more nervous!

One of the risks is lung puncture. I mean, I’m no anatomy expert, but that sounds basically impossible while needling my calf. However, it still scared me! I signed, and tried to prepare myself. I begged KT and Ashley to hold my hand, but KT was on photography duty and Ashley, well, Ashley our friendship is over. Except when I need you to make me run fast. Then we can be friends again ;)

Matt explained that he would be putting the needle in four different spots. He also told all sorts of awesome jokes like saying “Oh I’m so glad I finally get to do this on someone!” Great, Matt. Thanks for that.

The first one actually didn’t hurt at all! I barely felt it. He asked how I was doing and I was like “Great!” Hah. You see, it’s not the actual needle going in that hurts–it’s kind of similar to acupuncture where the needle is really thin, but this one isn’t hollow. The part that hurts is when they shake it around in there. The first spot was on the outside of my calf which is less sensitive. Then they did one in the middle and all of the sudden it felt like a charlie horse! Holy crap. It was not fun. The third one was even worse! I asked for a little break before the 4th one, because it was rough at this point. They basically make your leg muscles spasm, and I don’t know about you, but I don’t find that to be the most pleasant feeling.

The last one was so weird! It was down closer to my achilles and it made it feel like my foot was asleep! You know the spidery tingling feeling when you stop on your foot when it’s asleep? That happened and it freaked me out! They said it as normal, and before I knew it, I was done. If it works nearly as well as they say it will, it’ll definitely be worth it in the end. The only other part that is less than fun (other than, you know, the 4-5 more weeks I have of this) is how sore I was yesterday! They warned me that I would be, but you know that feeling when you’ve had really bad charlie horses during the night, and the next day your calf is so sore that it’s hard to walk? Is that just me? Anyway, that’s how it felt. You should have seen my trying to teach choreography. Yikes.

Have you ever experienced TDN? Any other crazy physical therapy or other medical things?? I think things like this are so interesting, and I’m always curious to know what other people have experienced!