Does your muscle need to twitch for dry needling to work? Great question!
The short answer is, no it doesn’t. When it comes to dry needling, the second we insert a needle a whole cascade of changes happen both at the tissue and neuromuscular level that help you feel better. We get an almost instant change in blood flow and a whole bunch of neuro-peptides that help you feel better.
The local twitch response can happen, and clinically I find that patients say that they do feel good when that happens. But in some cases we actually don’t even try to elicit the twitch response. We can use dry needling for a whole lot of issues with your tissues. You might have some tightness that you want to feel better and in these cases I do try to elicit a twitch response. But you might be dealing with a herniation, bulge or an entrapped nerve and in these cases we don’t need a twitch response to happen to make a change because we use a completely different technique to change how your nerves and muscles are functioning.
When you work with an experienced practitioner who has done more than just a basic dry needling course – they will have a whole host of techniques that can help a much more wide variety of problems than just tight muscles.
So in the end, no, a twitch response isn’t necessary for dry needling to work. And there is a surprisingly good amount of research to prove the exact mechanisms that back this up.