Physiother Theory Pract. 2021 Oct 10:1-9. doi: 10.1080/09593985.2021.1987603. Online ahead of print.
DESIGN: Case Report.
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Thoracic spine pain and movement dysfunction is a relatively common problem in the general population but has received little attention in research. Dry needling is frequently utilized by physical therapists and has been shown to reduce pain and improve function in areas, such as the cervical and lumbar spine, shoulder, hip, and knee. However, little research has been performed on the use of dry needling in the thoracic area with only two prior case studies being published. This case report documents the use of dry needling and manual therapy to treat a patient with symptoms of thoracic spine pain with concurrent pseudovisceral symptoms of chest pain and difficulty breathing.
CASE DESCRIPTION: The patient was a 78-year-old female who was referred to physical therapy with complaints of pain focused in her mid-thoracic spine radiating anteriorly into her chest. The patient underwent medical diagnostic tests prior to her referral to physical therapy to rule out cardiac pathology, pulmonary pathology, and fracture. She was treated with dry needling and manual therapy for a total of four sessions over a two-week period.
OUTCOMES: Fifteen days after her initial evaluation, the patient reported she was pain-free with a pain score of 0/10 on the VAS. She reported she was no longer taking pain medication or NSAIDS. She was able to return to normal daily activities without restriction and normal sleep pattern. Her score on the Oswestry disability index at intake was 42% impairment and 2% impairment after 4 treatments. At follow-up 6 weeks and 12 weeks after her discharge from physical therapy, the patient reported she continued to be pain-free.