To determine whether dry needling of an active myofascial trigger point (MTrP) reduces pain and alters the status of the trigger point to either a non–spontaneously tender nodule or its resolution.
A prospective, nonrandomized, controlled, interventional clinical study.
A total of 56 subjects with neck or shoulder girdle pain of more than 3 months duration and active MTrPs were recruited from a campus-wide volunteer sample. Of these, 52 completed the study (23 male and 33 female). Their mean age was 35.8 years.
Three weekly dry needling treatments of a single active MTrP.
Main Outcome Measures
Primary Outcomes: Baseline and posttreatment evaluations of pain using a verbal analogue scale, the Brief Pain Inventory, and the status of the MTrP as determined by digital palpation. Trigger points were rated as active (spontaneously painful), latent (requiring palpation to reproduce the characteristic pain), or resolved (no palpable nodule).
Profile of Mood States, Oswestry Disability Index, and Short Form 36 scores, and cervical range of motion.
Primary outcomes: A total of 41 subjects had a change in trigger point status from active to latent or resolved, and 11 subjects had no change (P < .001). Reduction in all pain scores was significant (P < .001). Secondary outcomes: Significant improvement in posttreatment cervical rotational asymmetry in subjects as follows: unilateral/bilateral MTrPs (P = .001 and P = 21, respectively); in pain pressure threshold in subjects with unilateral/bilateral MTrPs, (P = .006 andP = .012, respectively); improvement in the SF-36 mental health and physical functioning subscale scores (P = .019 and P = .03), respectively; and a decrease in the Oswestry Disability Index score (P = .003).
Dry needling reduces pain and changes MTrP status. Change in trigger point status is associated with a statistically and clinically significant reduction in pain. Reduction of pain is associated with improved mood, function, and level of disability.