Background: Nonspecific shoulder pain has a high prevalence in older adults and causes functional alterations. Furthermore, there are difficulties in establishing a clinical diagnosis, effective treatments are lacking, and little evidence has been found regarding the use of invasive physical therapy techniques in this age group.
Purpose: To determine the efficacy of a single physical therapy intervention with deep dry needling (DDN) on latent and active myofascial trigger points (MTrPs) in older adults with nonspecific shoulder pain.
Methods: This pilot study is a single-blind, randomized, controlled clinical trial that included 20 participants, aged 65 years and older, who were diagnosed with nonspecific shoulder pain. The study was approved by the Clinical Research Ethics Committee of the area. Participants were recruited at their homes or at a care center and were randomly assigned into either an experimental group (n = 10), which received a session of DDN on 1 active and 1 latent MTrP of the infraspinatus muscle, or a control group (n = 10), which received a session of DDN on only 1 active MTrP. A blind examiner assessed the pain intensity, pain pressure threshold on the anterior deltoid, and extensor carpi radialis brevis muscles and grip strength before, immediately after, and 1 week after the intervention.
Results: Statistically significant differences (P < .05) in the pressure pain thresholds (PPTs) of the extensor carpi radialis brevis were found in the experimental group in both posttreatment assessments. Moreover, the effect size values (d Cohen) varied from small for grip strength (0.017-0.36) to moderate for the pain intensity (0.46-0.78) and PPT in the anterior deltoid (0.49-0.66) and to large for the PPT in the extensor carpi radialis brevis (1.06-1.58).
Conclusions: A single physical therapy intervention with DDN on 1 latent MTrP, in conjunction with 1 active MTrP, in the infraspinatus muscle may increase the PPT of the extensor carpi radialis brevis muscle area immediately following and 1 week after the intervention in older adults with nonspecific shoulder pain.