Musculoskelet Sci Pract. 2021 Mar 21;53:102366. doi: 10.1016/j.msksp.2021.102366. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND: Dry needling (DN) has been consistently shown to decrease pain sensitivity and increase flexibility local to the site of treatment, however it is unclear whether these effects are limited to the region of treatment or can be observed remote to the area of treatment.
OBJECTIVE: To determine the immediate, short-term effects of DN to the thoracolumbar junction on regional and remote flexibility, and to observe if changes in pain sensitivity can occur remote to site of treatment.
DESIGN: Double-blind randomized clinical trial.
METHODS: Fifty-four subjects with low back pain and decreased length in at least one hamstring were randomized to receive either DN or sham DN to the T12 and L1 multifidi. Participants underwent regional (fingertip-to-floor) and remote flexibility (passive knee extension, passive straight leg raise) and pressure pain threshold (PPT) testing of the upper and lower extremity before, immediately after and 1 day after treatment. ANCOVAs were used to analyze flexibility data, with the covariate of pre-treatment values. Paired t-tests were used for difference in remote pain sensitivity.
RESULTS: Statistically larger improvements in regional flexibility, but not remote flexibility, were observed immediately post-treatment in those who received DN than in those receiving sham DN (p = .0495; adjusted difference 1.2, 95% CI 0.002-2.3). Differences between upper and lower extremity PPT were not significant.
CONCLUSION: DN can potentially have immediate changes in regional flexibility, but effects are not sustained at 24-h follow-up. DN may not affect remote flexibility or segmental pain sensitivity.