Neural Fascial Acupuncture is a modern approach to treating chronic pain being pioneered by Dr. Josh Hanson, DACM. It works by reducing mechano-sensitivity (those really tender spots you press on) by realigning collagen fibers and restoring range of motion to our fascial system (the stuff that connects all your muscles together).
The vast majority of pain conditions are caused by micro-instabilities and disruptions in the collagen matrix and these disruptions in the collagen matrix can be addressed with a precisely placed specialized needle.
- Fascia is 2nd most innervated tissue in body (skin is #1).
- NFA (Neural-fascial-acupuncture) Can quickly and dramatically reduce pain in a matter of seconds.
- The goal of every treatment is to reduce pressure pain (mechanosensitivity).
- This in turn restores range of motion and reduces your pain.
How Does it Work?
- Reformats the fascial matrix by realigning the collagen fibers and fibroblasts (Langevin et al 2011)
- Restores and Improves mechano-receptor threshold and in turn reduces the sensitivity of the nervous system.
It has been recently proposed that mechanical signaling through the connective tissue, along with transmission of the matrix deformation through the fascial system network, can explain the therapeutic effect of acupuncture.
Through extensive testing over thousands of patient visits, Dr. Josh Hanson, DACM has measured the effects of traditional acupuncture, dry needling and neural fascial acupuncture with the use of a force pressure gauge. This allows him to measure the mechanical threshold for pain both before and after treatment to determine the most effective tool for the job.
This model of acupuncture, which involves the transduction of mechanical signals through the connective planes and produces a secondary involvement of neurophysiological mechanism, appears to make the largest change in mechanical threshold in the shortest time with the longest results. It is also compatible with the proposed neurophysiological explanation
How does fascia cause pain?
When the fascia is irritated by trauma, inflammation, and micro-injury it can become abnormally stiff leading to pain. These micro-instabilities lead to a decrease in mechano-receptors and collagen fibers that are not correctly aligned with one another. This leads to increased pressure pain within the area of irritation which is transmitted through the Fascial system, resulting in pain on other areas of the body.
A Deeper Dive into Neural Fascial Acupuncture
What is Neural Fascial Acupuncture
Neural Fascial Acupuncture lies in the identification of specific, localized areas of the fascia in connection with specific limited movements. Once a limited or painful movement is identified, then a specific point on the fascia is implicated and through the appropriate intervention with a specialized needle of this precise part of the fascia, a cascade of bio-chemical changes follows and localized tissue function is restored to the fascial tissue and sensory nerves.
In the last forty years, hundreds of basic science studies in laboratories (using human and animal models) have shown the effects of acupuncture on many neurological, cellular, and metabolic processes.
The work of Stecco and the dissections they have studied provide new histological and anatomical data including the existence of myotendinous expansions between segments, the multi-layered structure of deep fascia and the abundant innervation of this tissue by mechanoreceptors and free nerve endings.
We then pull on the work of Dr. Lyftogt and perineural injection therapy to round out our understanding of the fascia and cutaneous nerves and their affect on pain and how we can quickly and effectively restore function to nociceptive nerve fibers that are unnecessarily firing and creating a pain experience.
The Importance of a good physical exam
Have you ever had the experience of taking your car into a mechanic time and time again, each time something is replaced, and each time your car ends up having the same issues? We would all say that this phenomenon happens because the mechanic didn’t know what was wrong from the outset. This also happens in medicine and that problem begins with a poor physical exam.
The physical exam in medicine has become a lost and dying art.
With the advent of MRI and other tests and payment pressures from insurance companies, the average physician spends just a few minutes with hands on the patient performing an exam, and some doctors never even get that far. Imaging is used to “justify” that there is a visible structural problem and that the doctors recommended intervention will be covered by an insurance panel.
We know from current evidence that the vast majority of pain problems do not actually come from these large visible structural changes. I’ve written extensively about this – where studies have been performed showing that most people have herniations, bulges, degeneration, arthritis in their back and have 0 back pain – so we cannot correlate the two without a good physical exam.
Neural Fascial Acupuncture treatment is based on a thorough physical exam
The first place we start with this innovative style of treatment is a thorough physical exam where we map your entire pain pattern. We know that pain generating fascial tissue happens along force vectors and can be present in multiple areas. Our main job and first principle is to map the specific pain pattern you are experiencing.
Only then can we begin to provide a comprehensive treatment that addresses your complete pain presentation.
After a thorough physical exam we will then work to restore function to the dysfunctional and painful areas with a very quick but precise needle insertion. The good news is that this form of treatment is very quick – Dr. Hanson can perform a comprehensive treatment for a low back in as little as 15 minutes. The treatment is very tolerable – many patients who find dry needling to be uncomfortable say that this treatment is so much more tolerable.
Treatments are generally recommended once weekly for a series of 4-8 visits.