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Dry needling perceptions and experiences: A survey of Australian physiotherapists

Musculoskelet Sci Pract. 2023 Dec 7;69:102895. doi: 10.1016/j.msksp.2023.102895. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND: There is a lack of information on the use of dry needling in Australian physiotherapy practice.

OBJECTIVES: Our primary aim was to enhance the understanding of why Australian physiotherapists use dry needling in clinical practice. The secondary aim was to explore Australian physiotherapists experiences with adverse events caused by dry needling.

DESIGN: Cross-sectional online survey.

METHOD: We developed a survey and disseminated it through email to physiotherapists from all states and territories in Australia. Participant demographics and responses were reported as frequencies and percentages.

RESULTS/FINDINGS: We invited 1006 Australian physiotherapists, of which 232 (23%) viewed the online survey and 203 (20%) consented to participate, of which nearly all completed the survey (n = 198, 98%). Most respondents worked in private practice (n = 164, 83%), with 127 (64%) reporting using dry needling as an intervention within the previous 12 months. Physiotherapists typically used dry needling to decrease pain intensity (n = 105, 85%) and reduce muscle tension (n = 100, 81%). Reports of minor adverse events were common and included discomfort during the treatment (n = 77, 62%) and bruising (n = 69, 56%). Some respondents reported experiencing major adverse events including prolonged aggravation of symptoms (n = 10, 8%) and syncope (n = 16, 13%).

CONCLUSIONS: We found that many Australian physiotherapists in private practice use dry needling, usually to decrease pain intensity and muscle tension. Minor adverse events were experienced by more than half the respondents and between 8 and 13% of the Australian physiotherapists surveyed reported experiencing a major adverse event due to dry needling.

PMID:38081107 | DOI:10.1016/j.msksp.2023.102895


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