Scand J Pain. 2021 Sep 30. doi: 10.1515/sjpain-2021-0091. Online ahead of print.
OBJECTIVES: To assess the immediate and three days postintervention effect of one dry needling session compared to one sham needling session on pain, central pain processing, muscle co-contraction and spatiotemporal parameters during gait in knee osteoarthritis patients.
METHODS: A double-blind randomized controlled trial was conducted. Sixty-one knee osteoarthritis patients were randomly assigned to the dry needling or sham needling group. Primary outcomes were pain and central pain processing. Secondary outcomes included muscle co-contraction and spatiotemporal parameters during gait. Patients were assessed at baseline and 15 min after the intervention, and pain also three days after the intervention. Linear mixed models were used to examine between- and within-group differences.
RESULTS: No significant between-group differences for pain were found, but within-group scores showed a significant decrease 15 min after sham needling and three days after dry needling. The mean conditioned pain modulation effect measured at the m. Trapezius worsened significantly 15 min after sham needling compared to after dry needling (between-group difference). However, individual conditioned pain modulation percentage scores remained stable over time. Various significant within-group differences were found 15 min after sham needling: a decrease of conditioned pain modulation measured at m. Quadriceps and m. Trapezius and stride- and step-time scores, and an increase in step length and widespread pain pressure threshold. A significant decrease in muscle co-contraction index of the m. Vastus Medialis and Semitendinosus was found as within-group difference 15 min after dry needling.
CONCLUSIONS: Dry needling has no larger effect on pain, central pain processing, muscle co-contraction and gait pattern 15 min and three days postintervention compared to sham needling. Mean conditioned pain modulation scores worsened after sham needling compared to after dry needling. Further research remains necessary.