Efficacy of myofascial trigger point dry needling in the prevention of pain after total knee arthroplasty: a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial

Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013:2013:694941. doi: 10.1155/2013/694941. Epub 2013 Mar 27.


The aim of this study was to determine whether the dry needling of myofascial trigger points (MTrPs) is superior to placebo in the prevention of pain after total knee arthroplasty. Forty subjects were randomised to a true dry needling group (T) or to a sham group (S). All were examined for MTrPs by an experienced physical therapist 4-5 hours before surgery. Immediately following anesthesiology and before surgery started, subjects in the T group were dry needled in all previously diagnosed MTrPs, while the S group received no treatment in their MTrPs. Subjects were blinded to group allocation as well as the examiner in presurgical and follow-up examinations performed 1, 3, and 6 months after arthroplasty. Subjects in the T group had less pain after intervention, with statistically significant differences in the variation rate of the visual analogue scale (VAS) measurements 1 month after intervention and in the need for immediate postsurgery analgesics. Differences were not significant at 3- and 6-month follow-up examinations. In conclusion, a single dry needling treatment of MTrP under anaesthesia reduced pain in the first month after knee arthroplasty, when pain was the most severe. Results show a superiority of dry needling versus placebo. An interesting novel placebo methodology for dry needling, with a real blinding procedure, is presented.