Pain Rep. 2021 Jun 28;6(2):e939. doi: 10.1097/PR9.0000000000000939. eCollection 2021 Jul-Aug.
INTRODUCTION: Myofascial pain syndrome (MPS) affects most patients with chronic shoulder pain. Dry needling (DN) is a common treatment for MPS, but its temporal pattern and sensory effects remain unknown.
OBJECTIVES: We evaluated in a randomized, sham-controlled study the pattern of analgesic efficacy and local sensory changes of a single session of DN for MPS in patients with chronic shoulder pain.
METHODS: Patients with chronic shoulder pain were randomized into active (n = 20) or sham (n = 21) groups. A single DN was performed by a researcher blinded to group assignment and pain outcomes. Pain intensity was assessed by the numeric rating score, and sensory thresholds were evaluated with a quantitative sensory testing protocol, including the area of tactile sensory abnormalities 7 days before needling, right before, and 7 days after the intervention.
RESULTS: Dry needling led to significant larger pain intensity reduction (from 6.30 ± 2.05 to 2.40 ± 2.45 in the active group; P = 0.02, effect size = -1.3 (95% CI [-2.0 to -0.68]); (number necessary to treat = 2.1). Pain reduction scores were significantly different on the second day after needling and persisted so until the seventh day and were accompanied by improvement in other dimensions of pain and a decrease in the area of mechanical hyperalgesia in the active DN group alone (P < 0.05).
CONCLUSION: Active trigger points DN provided analgesic effects compared with sham and decreased the area of local mechanical hyperalgesia. These findings have practical clinical implications and may provide mechanistic insights behind MPS.