#PTonICE Daily Show – Thursday, October 19th, 2023 – Alternative approaches to dry needling lumbar multifidus

In today’s episode of the PT on ICE Daily Show, Dry Needling lead faculty Ellison Melrose discusses an alternate technique to dry needle the lumbar multifidus.

Take a listen to the podcast episode, watch the video, or read the full transcription below.

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Good morning YouTube and good morning Instagram. This is PT on ice daily show. I am Dr. Ellison Melrose and I am currently lead faculty with the dry needling division of ICE. So we are going to go over a alternative approach for dry needling the lumbar multifidus today. Um, before we get into that, I want to go over our upcoming courses. So this, the remainder of 2023, we have, um, a handful of courses. This weekend, Paul’s going to be out in Anchorage, Alaska, and I believe that is capped. After that, he will be down in Seattle, Washington on November 3rd through the 5th for the upper quarter. I will be out in Rochester, Minnesota for upper quarter dry needling on November 18th through the 19th. We will both be teaching the first weekend in December. So December 1st through the 3rd, Paul will be in Bellingham, Washington, and he will be hitting upper quarter then, and I will be out in Clearwater, Florida, so opposite sides of the states, doing lower quarter. So if you guys have a chance to find us out on the road, or want to join us for the remainder of 2023, those are the courses. We have one other one also in Fayetteville, Arkansas, the second weekend in December, where we’ll be doing lower quarter. out there. So if you guys have any questions about those courses coming up, feel free to message us here or yeah, stay tuned for those courses. And then 2024 we’ll be starting out pretty hot with some more courses and our advanced course as well. It will be, will be coming, um, in 2024.


So what I wanted to do today was to go over an alternative approach for, uh, dry needling the lumbar multifidus. So there, We are not gonna go over clinical reasons for needling the lumbar multifidus, but for those who have been taught how to needle the multifidus, there is one technique that is used fairly widespread across all educators, and that is the wrap-over technique. For demonstration purposes, I am going to be using my knuckle as the spinous process, and then we will be demonstrating it on a human body as well. For that wrap-over technique, so we have our spinous process here, Wrap over technique, we use two fingers to compress within a one centimeter gutter, just lateral to the spinous process. And we create a target window with our fingers and treating within that zone. In order to treat bilaterally, so both sides, you have to walk around the table to treat the contralateral side, which is fine, But when we’re talking about clinical efficiency, it may be conducive to be able to treat or to needle staying on the same side of the patient. So we have an alternative approach for needling the multifidus where you are able to stay on the same side of the patient, and that will be your dominant side. So I am right-handed, so I’m going to be treating from the right side of the table treating the lumbar multifidus. I’ll demonstrate first the wrap over technique and the alternative technique.


For that alternative technique, so instead of using that spinous process, our palpation hand, two finger, stepping over that spinous process and compressing into the gutter, what we are going to be doing is we are going to be using our palpation hand, index and middle finger to orient us to where that lateral border of the spinous process is. In the lumbar spine, we have about a one centimeter gutter where we can feel fairly confident that we’re going to be directing our needle towards the lamina with a directly posterior to anterior approach. From there, if we go outside that one centimeter gutter, we need to angle the needle medially to ensure that we have contact with the lamina as we need that laminal contact to ensure that we are at the depth of the multifidus. We are going to stay within that one centimeter gutter for today’s demonstration, but we will start with that wrap over technique and then the alternative approach. The alternative approach, instead of using that two finger digital compression, we are going to be using the spinous process and either our middle or index finger to find that lateral border. So, first we want to find the spinous process and take the mid pad of our palpation finger and palpate that lateral border of the spinous process. From there, we’re going to take our middle finger or our index finger, depending on which side we are treating, and compress tissue down within that one centimeter guide. From there, we’re going to create a treatment window between our two fingers and treating directly posterior to anterior. towards laminal contact.


So it’ll make more sense when we’re demonstrating it on the patient. So let’s go ahead and do that. I’m just going to angle this camera down towards my patient. So here we have an exposed lumbar spine. I’m going to just orient myself to where we are. I am standing on my dominant hand side. From there, We’ll just go over palpation. So spine is processed, we can palpate the lateral borders with our thumbs here. For that wrap over technique, we’re going to take our pads of our palpation hand, stepping off, compressing tissue down, treating within that one centimeter gutter, okay? So let’s start with that technique and then I’ll show you the alternative approach after. So, palpating that lateral border of the spinous process, two fingers stepping off, compressing down into that gutter, keeping that needle angle directly posterior to anterior, so vertically, tapping, advancing the needle towards laminal contact. So in order to treat the ipsilateral side now, I would have to walk around the table and straddle that needle to do the same compression and same technique that we did on this side. So what I will demonstrate is the alternative approach and then we’ll do another segment down below of the alternative approach just to show you how efficient this tool can be. So, instead of using those two fingers to hug the lateral border, I’m going to be using my middle finger on my palpation hand to palpate the posterior aspect of that spinous process. From there, I’m going to take the middle aspect of my pad and hug that lateral border of the spinous process. My index finger is then compressing into that gutter creating a nice treatment window. Again, we want to be aware of where that one centimeter gutter is and treating within that zone, directly posterior to anterior. So vertical, vertical needle approach here. So compressing down towards laminal contact. So there we have the alternative approach on that ipsilateral side. From there, thinking clinical efficiency, if we were going to set up multiple different segments in the lumbar spine, if we started proximally or superiorly and worked inferiorly, kind of like you’re reading a book, that is going to be the easiest way to avoid some awkward hand positions with the needles. So we will needle the segment just distal to the ones that have needles in. So from there, Instead of using my middle finger to contact that lateral border, I’m gonna be using my index finger. We are treating the contralateral side from where I am standing. So again, we can appreciate the lateral borders of the spinous process. Take the pad of our index finger and hug that lateral border of the spinous process. Compress my middle finger now and create a treatment zone between my two fingers. Again, appreciate that we have a one centimeter gutter. Now we want to be treating directly posterior anterior to contact lamina. From there, I’m going to do a firm guide to compression, firm tap, advance the needle to laminal contact. And then we can do the same thing on the ipsilateral side. so middle finger palpating the posterior aspect of the spinous process wrapping to that lateral kind of hugging that lateral where it starts to curve creating a one centimeter gutter with my index and middle finger treating within that zone directly posterior to anterior towards laminal contact. So there we have, we went over the wrap-over technique and the alternative approach and just looking at the clinical efficiency that being able to stay on that ipsilateral side of the patient can do. I have a very small treatment room, so it allows me to not have to kind of wiggle my treatment table back and forth, and allows us to get a handful of segments within a couple minutes, which I think when we’re thinking about using dry needling in the clinic, we want to save as much time as we have for using our electrical stimulation, as the new research is showing how beneficial that can be for treating pain, neuromuscular priming, also, um, recovery or hemodynamics, improving hemodynamics. So we want to get the needles in as efficient as possible as to allow for some optimal treatment time with the Eastern. So we, again, just to review with this technique, we are going to be using our index and middle finger. And instead of hugging the lateral border of that spinous process, we are going to be treating, um, with those fingers just off the lateral border, creating a one centimeter gutter between those two fingers, treating directly posterior to anterior and maintaining laminal contact to ensure we are at the depth of the multifidus. Thank you guys so much for joining me this morning, going over the alternative approach for dry needling the multifidus. And I hope to see you out on the road sometime this year or next year.


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