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J Tradit Chin Med. 2016 Feb;36(1):1-13.

Effectiveness of dry needling on reducing pain intensity in patients with myofascial pain syndrome: a Meta-analysis.



To summarize the literature about the effectiveness of dry needling (DN) on relieving pain and increasing range of motion (ROM) in individuals with myofascial pain syndrome (MPS).


Papers published from January 2000 to January 2013 were identified through an electronic search in the databases MEDLINE, Dialnet, Cochrane Library Plus, Physiotherapy Evidence Data-base (PEDro) and Spanish Superior Council of Scientific Research (CSIC). The studies included were randomized controlled trials written in English and/or Spanish about the effectiveness of DN on pain and ROM in individuals with MPS.


Out of 19 clinical trials that were potentially relevant, a total of 10 were included in the Meta-analysis. Regarding pain intensity reduction when measured before and immediately after the intervention, DN achieved improvement compared with the placebo treatment [d = - 0.49; 95% CI (- 3.21, 0.42)] and with the control group [d = - 9.13; 95% C (- 14.70, - 3.56)]. However, other treatments achieved better results on the same variable compared with DN, considering the measurements for pre-treatment and immediately after [d = 2.54; 95% CI (- 0.40, 5.48)], as well as the pre-treatment and after 3-4 weeks [d = 4.23; 95% CI (0.78, 7.68)]. DN showed a significantly increased ROM when measured before the intervention and immediately after, in comparison with the placebo [d = 2.00; 95% C (1.60, 2.41)]. However, other treatments achieved a significant better result regarding ROM when it was measured before the intervention and immediately after, as compared with DN [d = - 1.42; 95% CI (- 1.84, - 0.99)].


DN was less effective on decreasing pain comparing to the placebo group. Other treatments were more effective than DN on reducing pain after 3-4 weeks. However, on increasing ROM, DN was more effective comparing to that of placebo group, but less than other treatments.

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