Background: Dry needling at distant myofascial trigger points is an effective pain management in patients with myofascial pain. However, the biochemical effects of remote dry needling are not well understood. This study evaluates the remote effects of dry needling with different dosages on the expressions of substance P (SP) in the proximal muscle, spinal dorsal horns of rabbits.
Methods: Male New Zealand rabbits (2.5-3.0 kg) received dry needling at myofascial trigger spots of a gastrocnemius (distant muscle) in one (1D) or five sessions (5D). Bilateral biceps femoris (proximal muscles) and superficial laminaes of L5-S2, T2-T5, and C2-C5 were sampled immediately and 5 days after dry needling to determine the levels of SP using immunohistochemistry and western blot.
Results: Immediately after dry needling for 1D and 5D, the expressions of SP were significantly decreased in ipsilateral biceps femoris and bilateral spinal superficial laminaes (P < .05). Five days after dry needling, these reduced immunoactivities of SP were found only in animals receiving 5D dry needling (P < .05).
Conclusions: This remote effect of dry needling involves the reduction of SP levels in proximal muscle and spinal superficial laminaes, which may be closely associated with the control of myofascial pain.