Comparing Trigger Point Dry Needling and Manual Pressure Technique for the Management of Myofascial Neck/Shoulder Pain: A Randomized Clinical Trial

J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2017 Jan;40(1):11-20. doi: 10.1016/j.jmpt.2016.10.008.


Objective: The aim of this study was to investigate short-term and long-term treatment effects of dry needling (DN) and manual pressure (MP) technique with the primary goal of determining if DN has better effects on disability, pain, and muscle characteristics in treating myofascial neck/shoulder pain in women.

Methods: In this randomized clinical trial, 42 female office workers with myofascial neck/shoulder pain were randomly allocated to either a DN or MP group and received 4 treatments. They were evaluated with the Neck Disability Index, general numeric rating scale, pressure pain threshold, and muscle characteristics before and after treatment. For each outcome parameter, a linear mixed-model analysis was applied to reveal group-by-time interaction effects or main effects for the factor "time."

Results: No significant differences were found between DN and MP. In both groups, significant improvement in the Neck Disability Index was observed after 4 treatments and 3 months (P < .001); the general numerical rating scale also significantly decreased after 3 months. After the 4-week treatment program, there was a significant improvement in pain pressure threshold, muscle elasticity, and stiffness.

Conclusion: Both treatment techniques lead to short-term and long-term treatment effects. Dry needling was found to be no more effective than MP in the treatment of myofascial neck/shoulder pain.

Trial registration: NCT02301468.

Keywords: Myofascial Pain Syndromes; Neck Pain; Trigger Points.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture Therapy*
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Myofascial Pain Syndromes / physiopathology
  • Myofascial Pain Syndromes / therapy*
  • Neck Pain / physiopathology
  • Neck Pain / therapy*
  • Pressure
  • Shoulder Pain / physiopathology
  • Shoulder Pain / therapy*
  • Therapy, Soft Tissue*
  • Trigger Points / physiopathology*
  • Young Adult

Associated data