Objective: To summarize the best available evidence to determine if tendon needling is an effective treatment for tendinopathy. Data source. Medline and Cochrane Databases through November 2013.
Review methods: Utilizing the search terms tendinopathy, needle, needling, tenotomy, dry needling, needling tendon, needle fenestration, and tendon fenestration, 17 articles were identified through our systematic literature search. Of these, 4 studies met the inclusion criteria. Four independent reviewers reviewed the articles. The study results and generated conclusions were agreed upon.
Results: The studies that were included in this review suggest that tendon needling improves patient reported outcomes in patients with tendinopathy. In 2 studies evaluating tendon needling in lateral epicondylosis, one showed an improvement in a subjective visual analogue scale score of 34% (significant change > 25%) from baseline at 6 months. The other showed an improvement of 56.1% in a visual analogue scale score from baseline. In 1 study evaluating tendon needling in addition to eccentric therapy for Achilles tendinosis, the subjective Victorian Institute of Sport Assessment-Achilles (VISA-A) score improved by 19.9 (significant change > 10) (95% CI, 13.6-26.2) from baseline. In 1 study evaluating tendon needling in rotator cuff tendinosis, the subjective shoulder pain and disability index showed statistical significant improvement from baseline at 6 months (P < 0.05).
Conclusions: The evidence suggests that tendon needling improves patient-reported outcome measures in patients with tendinopathy. There is a trend that shows that the addition of autologous blood products may further improve theses outcomes.
Keywords: Dry needling; needle fenestration; tendinopathy; tendinosis.