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Exploring the Underlying Mechanisms of Action of Dry Needling: What Is the Immediate Effect on Muscle Electrophysiology? An Experimental Randomized Controlled Trial

Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 2022 Jan 1;101(1):18-25. doi: 10.1097/PHM.0000000000001732.


OBJECTIVE: Dry needling is a commonly used treatment technique for myofascial pain syndromes, such as trapezius myalgia. Despite the shown positive clinical effects on pain, the underlying mechanisms of action, such as the effect on muscle electrophysiology, remain unclear. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of dry needling, compared with sham needling, in the upper trapezius muscle on surface electromyography activity and the relation with pain in office workers with trapezius myalgia.

DESIGN: For this experimental randomized controlled trial, 43 office workers with work-related trapezius myalgia were included. Surface electromyography activity was measured before and after a pain-provoking computer task and immediately after, 15, and 30 mins after treatment with dry or sham needling. Pain scores were evaluated at the same time points as well as 1, 2, and 7 days after treatment.

RESULTS: No significant differences in surface electromyography activity between dry needling and sham needling were found. Significant positive low to moderate Spearman correlations were found between surface electromyography activity and pain levels after dry needling treatment.

CONCLUSIONS: This study shows no immediate effects of dry needling on the electrophysiology of the upper trapezius muscle, compared with sham needling.

PMID:34915542 | DOI:10.1097/PHM.0000000000001732


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