Lynn H. Gerber, MD., Jay Shah, MD., William Rosenberger, PhD., Kathryn Armstrong, DPT., Diego Turo, PhD., Paul Otto, BS., Juliana Heimur, BS., Nikki Thaker, BS., and Siddhartha Sikdar, PhD. (2015).
Myofascial pain syndrome (MPS) is a common issue however it carries widespread controversy in regards to the etiology and pathophysiology. As a result, the diagnosis and treatment is often debated, specificially if myofascial trigger point (MTrP) is an accurate and important aspect in the diagnosis. The study divided trigger points into three types: active (those that are a palpable, distinct nodule that is instantaneously painful upon pressure), latent (those that are not spontaneously painful and requires palpation or activity to induce pain), and resolved (no palpable nodule present).
Dry needling (DN) is comonly used to reduce pain and involves the insertion of a needle into the nodule which ultimately causes muscle twitches at the site of needle insertion.
This area of study is novel as it has been difficult to accurately measure pain and so, the study included three separate and differing measurement tools for pain. These measurements included verbal accounts, pain pressure threshold (PPT), and the Brief Pain Inventory.
The study consisted of 52 subjects with neck or shoulder girdle pain for more than 3 months. These participants received DN treatment once weekly for a period of three weeks. The researchers utilized verbal accounts of pain, the Brief Pain Inventory as well as the palpable status of the trigger point as primary measures.
It was found that participants experienced a significant reduction in pain that was found to be correlated to an improvement in palpable status of the trigger point from a state of active to either latent or resolved. This reduction in pain was seen in all three pain measurement tools. In addition to reduced pain, participants also experienced an increased range of motion in the cervical spine that is inferable to the muscle tension of the trapezius muscle.
This study provides important findings on the relation between pain and palpable status of the MTrP in regards to dry needling treatment. The study provides favourable support for the use of dry needling for trigger point disorders, specifically those in the upper trapezius muscles.
Summary by Kaitlin Proksch