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Immediate effects of dry needling on pain sensitivity and pain modulation in patients with chronic idiopathic neck pain: a single-blinded randomized clinical trial

Braz J Phys Ther. 2023 Jan 24;27(1):100481. doi: 10.1016/j.bjpt.2023.100481. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND: Dry needling is frequently used for the treatment of neck pain but knowledge about its neurophysiological central effects is scarce.

OBJECTIVES: To compare the immediate effects of a single session of dry needling (DN) and sham needling (SN) on local and distant pressure pain thresholds and conditioned pain modulation in patients with chronic idiopathic neck pain.

METHOD: Participants with chronic idiopathic neck pain were randomly allocated to a DN or SN group. The primary outcome measure was the pressure pain threshold (PPT) at one peripheral location: quadriceps muscle (Q). Secondary outcome measures were local PPTs at the treated (most painful) (tUT) and non-treated upper trapezius muscle (ntUT), absolute and relative conditioned pain modulation (CPM) effects and pain during hot water immersion. Patients were assessed at baseline and immediately post intervention. Linear mixed models were used to examine interaction effects as well as between- and within-group differences.

RESULTS: Fifty-four participants were included for statistical analysis. Linear mixed model analyses showed no significant “group X time” interaction effects for any of the outcome measures. The relative CPM effect at the Q was significantly higher post-intervention, compared to baseline within the DN group (mean difference= 13.52%; 95% CI: 0.46, 26.59).

CONCLUSION: The present study shows no superior effect of DN, compared to SN, in the immediate effect on local and distant PPTs and CPM in patients with chronic idiopathic neck pain.

PMID:36709694 | DOI:10.1016/j.bjpt.2023.100481


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