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Therapeutic effects of dry needling on lateral epicondylitis: An updated systematic review and meta-analysis

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2024 Mar 12:S0003-9993(24)00823-2. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2024.02.713. Online ahead of print.


OBJECTIVE: To investigate the therapeutic effects of dry needling on lateral epicondylitis and identify a relatively more effective needling technique.

DATA SOURCES: English databases (Pubmed, Web of Science, Scopus, EBSCO, ScienceDirect, Taylor & Francis, ProQuest, Cochrane, Ovid, and Embase) and Chinese databases (China National Knowledge Infrastructure, Wanfang, and VIP) were searched.

STUDY SELECTION: This study included randomized controlled trials for comparing the effectiveness of dry needling with other treatment methods for lateral epicondylitis. The primary outcome measures were pain intensity and elbow disability, while the secondary outcome measures included grip strength and upper limb function.

DATA EXTRACTION: Data extraction was performed by two researchers who used the Cochrane risk of bias analysis tool and the Physiotherapy Evidence Database checklist to assess the risk of bias and methodological quality of the included studies. The Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development, and Evaluation approach was used to assess the quality of evidence.

DATA SYNTHESIS: A total of 17 studies that involved 979 subjects were included in this research. Dry needling exhibited a significant advantage in improving pain intensity among patients with lateral epicondylitis within 1 week after treatment (mean difference [MD]=-0.95, 95% confidence interval [CI], -1.88 to -0.02). Within 1 week and in the follow-ups that exceeded 1 week, dry needling also demonstrated better improvement in elbow disability (<1 week: standardized mean difference [SMD]=-1.37, 95% CI, -1.88 to -0.86; ≥1 week: SMD=-1.32, 95% CI, -2.23 to -0.4) and grip strength (<1 week: SMD=0.27, 95% CI, 0.01 to 0.53; ≥1 week: SMD=0.45, 95% CI, 0.02 to 0.88). Trigger point dry needling with local twitch response exhibited more significant improvement in pain intensity within 1 week (MD=-1.09, 95% CI, -1.75 to -0.44).

CONCLUSIONS: Dry needling demonstrates good therapeutic effects on pain intensity (within 1 week), function, and grip strength among patients with lateral epicondylitis. Local twitch response is necessary in treatment that targets trigger points.

PMID:38484834 | DOI:10.1016/j.apmr.2024.02.713


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