Abstract: The effect of dry needling for myofascial trigger points in the neck and shoulders: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Ong J1, Claydon LS2.
This systematic review and meta-analysis sought investigate the efficacy of dry needling of myofascial trigger points in the neck and shoulders. Four of the quality articles reviewed compared dry needling to lidocaine injections on pain relief.
The authors concluded after the meta-analysis that there were no significant differences between dry needling and lidocaine injections immediately following treatment, at one, three and six months. The results however, favored lidocaine injections immediately following treatment and dry needling at three and six months. Despite appearing to not fully support the use of dry needling, one must take the results of this, or any meta-analysis, with a grain of salt. Considering physical therapists, at least in the vast majority of United States, do not have the ability to perform lidocaine injections, these conclusions would be more applicable to physicians. Although more research is needed, this study not only supports the use of dry needling for short term relief of pain, it also supports its efficacy in longer lasting pain relief of upwards of 6 months. Long term follow up demonstrating sustained symptom relief is likely the biggest hole in the dry needling literature currently. Consequently the results of this study are certainly favorable that choosing dry needling as a treatment intervention has the possibility of longer term sustained results.
Why You Should Care: Cervicothoracic dysfunction is one of the more common presentations we treat in the clinic. Often clinicians are looking for that magic bullet to treat this area and, unfortunately, no matter how many tricks we have up our sleeve, this area can often times lead to roadblocks. When a myofasical component to the patient's presentation is identified, this article supports the use of dry needling for pain relief for upwards of 6 months.
Thoughts? Leave comments and questions below and join us for Dry Needling Upper Quadrant in Dallas, TX September 19-20 or advance your skills in one of these manual therapy courses coming up in your region.
–Gary Kearns, PT, COMT, FAAOMPT
NAIOMT Guest Faculty & Clinical Fellowship Instructor