Dry Needling

Dry Needling is an umbrella term that refers to treatments where needles are inserted into structures such as muscles and tendons without the injection of any agent.


Which scientific studies have studied the effect of Dry Needling on pain?

Identified studies

  1. Hall ML, Mackie AC, Ribeiro DC. Effects of dry needling trigger point therapy in the shoulder region on patients with upper extremity pain and dysfunction: a systematic review with meta-analysis. Physiotherapy 2017.
  2. He C, Ma H. Effectiveness of trigger point dry needling for plantar heel pain: a meta-analysis of seven randomized controlled trials. J Pain Res 2017;10:1933-1942.
  3. Li X, Wang R, Xing X, Shi X, Tian J, Zhang J, et al. Acupuncture for myofascial pain syndrome: A network meta-analysis of 33 randomized controlled trials. Pain Physician 2017;20:E883-E902.
  4. Boyles R, Fowler R, Ramsey D, Burrows E. Effectiveness of trigger point dry needling for multiple body regions: a systematic review. Journal of Manual & Manipulative Therapy (Maney Publishing) 2015;23:276-293.
  5. Jackson MD, Rowe K, Davenport TE. Trigger Point Dry Needling for Musculoskeletal Pain and Disability: A Systematic Review of Comparative Effectiveness Research. Orthopaedic Physical Therapy Practice 2016;28:178-187.
  6. Rodríguez-Mansilla J, González-Sánchez B, De Toro García Á, Valera-Donoso E, Garrido-Ardila EM, Jiménez-Palomares M, et al. Effectiveness of dry needling on reducing pain intensity in patients with myofascial pain syndrome: a Meta-analysis. Journal of traditional Chinese medicine = Chung i tsa chih ying wen pan / sponsored by All-China Association of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine 2016;36:1-13.
  7. Cagnie B, Castelein B, Pollie F, Steelant L, Verhoeyen H, Cools A. Evidence for the Use of Ischemic Compression and Dry Needling in the Management of Trigger Points of the Upper Trapezius in Patients with Neck Pain. American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation 2015;94:573-583.
  8. Tough E, White A. Effectiveness of acupuncture/dry needling for myofascial trigger point pain (Provisional abstract). Physical Therapy Reviews 2011;16:147-154.
  9. Cummings TM, White AR, Author A, British Medical Acupuncture Society LU, Kingdom, Department of Complementary Medicine SoP, et al. Needling therapies in the management of myofascial trigger point pain: A systematic review. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation 2001;82:986-992.
  10. Ong J, Claydon LS, Author A, Centre for Physiotherapy Research UoOPOB, Dunedin NZ, Department of Allied Health a, et al. The effect of dry needling for myofascial trigger points in the neck and shoulders: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies 2014;18:390-398.
  12. Kietrys D, Palombaro K, Azzaretto E, Hubler R, Schaller B, Schlussel J, et al. Effectiveness of dry needling for upper-quarter myofascial pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis (Provisional abstract). Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy 2013;43:620-634.
  13. Gattie E, Cleland JA, Snodgrass S, Author A. The Effectiveness of Trigger Point Dry Needling for Musculoskeletal Conditions by Physical Therapists: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. The Journal of orthopaedic and sports physical therapy 2017;47:133-149.
  14. Liu L, Huang QM, Liu QG, Ye G, Bo CZ, Chen MJ, et al. Effectiveness of dry needling for myofascial trigger points associated with neck and shoulder pain: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation 2015;96:944-955.
  15. Espejo-Antunez L, Tejeda JF, Albornoz-Cabello M, Rodriguez-Mansilla J, de la Cruz-Torres B, Ribeiro F, et al. Dry needling in the management of myofascial trigger points: A systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Complement Ther Med 2017;33:46-57.
  16. Liu L, Huang QM, Liu QG, Thitham N, Li LH, Ma YT, et al. Evidence for Dry Needling in the Management of Myofascial Trigger Points Associated With Low Back Pain: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 2018;99:144-152.e2.
  17. Tough EA, White AR, Cummings TM, Richards SH, Campbell JL, Author A, et al. Acupuncture and dry needling in the management of myofascial trigger point pain: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. European Journal of Pain 2009;13:3-10.
  18. France S, Bown J, Nowosilskyj M, Mott M, Rand S, Walters J, et al. Evidence for the use of dry needling and physiotherapy in the management of cervicogenic or tension-type headache: A systematic review. Cephalalgia 2014;34:994-1003.
  19. Furlan AD, van TMW, Cherkin D, Tsukayama H, Lao L, Koes BW, et al. Acupuncture and dry-needling for low back pain. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2005.
  20. Krey D, Borchers J, McCamey K, Author A, The Ohio S, University Sports Medicine Center CUS, et al. Tendon needling for treatment of tendinopathy: A systematic review. Physician and Sportsmedicine 2015;43:80-86.
  21. Kim TH, Lee CR, Choi TY, Lee MS. Intramuscular stimulation therapy for healthcare: a systematic review of randomised controlled trials. Acupunct Med 2012;30:286-90.
  22. Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health. Dry needling and injection for musculoskeletal and joint disorders: a review of the clinical effectiveness, cost-effectiveness, and guidelines. August 2016.

SBU Enquiry Service consists of systematic literature searches to highlight studies that can address questions received by the SBU Enquiry Service from Swedish healthcare or social service providers. Relevant references are compiled by an SBU staff member, in consultation with an external expert when needed. The quality of the studies identified is not systematically reviewed.

Published: 5/24/2018
Contact SBU: registrator@sbu.se

Literature search

Project group

Michele Simpson and Miriam Entesarian Matsson at SBU.

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