Physiother Theory Pract. 2021 Apr 27:1-13. doi: 10.1080/09593985.2021.1920076. Online ahead of print.
Background: Tendinopathy is frequently associated with pain, soft tissue impairments and muscle performance limitations. Dry needling (DN) incorporates a fine filiform needle to penetrate the skin and underlying soft tissue in an effort to decrease pain and improve function. While injectable interventions and gauged-needle tendon fenestration for tendinopathy has been reviewed, DN for tendinopathy has yet to be synthesized.Objective: To systematically review the utilization and effects of DN for tendinopathy.Methods: Six electronic databases (PubMed, CINAHL, Scopus, SportDiscus, PEDro and the Cochrane Library) were searched from inception through August 15, 2020, using appropriate keywords and relevant synonyms.Results: After screening 462 articles, 10 studies met inclusion criteria. Study designs included case reports, case series, and randomized clinical trials. DN was used in isolation in 3/10 studies and as part of a multimodal approach in 7/10 studies. DN was associated with improved pain, function, muscle performance and perceived improvement in each study evaluating the relevant outcome. Conflicting results were found in comparative studies evaluating DN.Conclusions: DN may be a useful adjunctive treatment in the conservative management of tendinopathy, although its discrete effect is unclear. Very Low-quality evidence and methodological limitations suggest further investigation is warranted.