Ischemic Compression After Dry Needling of a Latent Myofascial Trigger Point Reduces Postneedling Soreness Intensity and Duration

PM R. 2015 Oct;7(10):1026-1034. doi: 10.1016/j.pmrj.2015.03.021. Epub 2015 Mar 31.


Objective: To investigate the effect of ischemic compression (IC) versus placebo and control on reducing postneedling soreness of 1 latent myofascial trigger point and on improving cervical range of motion (CROM) in asymptomatic subjects.

Design: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial with 72-hour follow-up.

Setting: A university community.

Participants: Asymptomatic volunteers (N = 90: 40 men and 50 women) aged 18 to 39 years (mean ± standard deviation [SD]: 22 ± 3 years).

Intervention: All subjects received a dry needling application over the upper trapezius muscle. Participants were then randomly divided into 3 groups: a treatment group who received IC over the needled trapezius muscle, a placebo group who received sham IC, and a control group who did not receive any treatment after needling.

Main outcome measures: Visual analog scale (VAS; during needling, at posttreatment and 6, 12, 24, 48, and 72 hours) and CROM (at preneedling, postneedling, and 24 and 72 hours).

Results: Subjects in the IC group showed significantly lower postneedling soreness than the placebo and the control group subjects immediately after treatment (mean ± standard deviation [SD]: IC, 20.1 ± 4.8; placebo, 36.7 ± 4.8; control, 34.8 ± 3.6) and at 48 hours (mean ± SD: IC, 0.6 ± 1; placebo, 4.8 ± 1; control, 3.8 ± 0.7). In addition, subjects in the dry needling+IC group showed significantly lower postneedling soreness duration (P = .026). All subjects significantly improved CROM in contralateral lateroflexion and both homolateral and contralateral rotations, but only the improvements found in the IC group reached the minimal detectable change.

Conclusions: IC can potentially be added immediately after dry needling of myofascial trigger point in the upper trapezius muscle because it has the effect of reducing postneedling soreness intensity and duration. The combination of dry needling and IC seems to improve CROM in homolateral and contralateral cervical rotation movements.

Trial registration: NCT02169700.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Constriction
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Myofascial Pain Syndromes / rehabilitation*
  • Needles
  • Physical Stimulation
  • Physical Therapy Modalities*
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Superficial Back Muscles
  • Trigger Points*
  • Young Adult

Associated data