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Dry Needling Reduces Shoulder Pain

I am particularly interested in treating shoulder pain, so I was excited to come across a study that looked into dry needling as a treatment technique for shoulder pain not caused by an injury. The study, conducted by Navarro-Santana et al. (2020), aimed to investigate the effectiveness of dry needling for non-traumatic shoulder pain that is more likely to be due to muscle dysfunction.

Dry needling is a treatment that involves using thin acupuncture needles to target specific points in the muscles that may correspond with muscle trigger points. The researchers collected information from six trials that fit their criteria from ten databases up until January 2020. They analysed data on pain levels and how it affected daily life for people with shoulder pain.

shoulder painThe results showed that dry needling helped reduce shoulder pain by a small amount in the short term. It also significantly improved how shoulder pain affected people's daily activities in the short term. However, the evidence was considered to be of moderate to low quality, indicating that the results may have limitations. As is usually the case, the researchers suggest that more research is needed, especially to understand the long-term effects of dry needling on shoulder pain.

 My own clinical experience is that dry needling can be a beneficial technique to assist in leaving pain symptoms. When dry needling is combined with other physiotherapy techniques, such as manual therapy and exercise, the overall effects tend to be long-lasting.

 Overall, dry needling is a common technique used for managing muscle-related pain. This study provides insight into its potential benefits for non-traumatic shoulder pain, which is a condition I see very often in the clinic. It is the first study to gather and analyse data from different trials to understand the effects of dry needling, specifically on shoulder pain and disability not caused by a traumatic injury.

 By Simon



Navarro-Santana, M. J., Gomez-Chiguano, G. F., Cleland, J. A., Arias-Buria, J. L., Fernández-De-Las-Peñas, C., & Plaza-Manzano, G. (2021). Effects of trigger point dry needling for nontraumatic shoulder pain of musculoskeletal origin: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Physical Therapy, 101(2), pzaa216.

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