Dry Needling Versus Cortisone Injection in the Treatment of Greater Trochanteric Pain Syndrome: A Noninferiority Randomized Clinical Trial

J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2017 Apr;47(4):232-239. doi: 10.2519/jospt.2017.6994. Epub 2017 Mar 3.


Study Design Prospective, randomized, partially blinded. Background Greater trochanteric pain syndrome (GTPS) is the current terminology for what was once called greater trochanteric or subgluteal bursitis. Cortisone (corticosteroid) injection into the lateral hip has traditionally been the accepted treatment for this condition; however, the effectiveness of injecting the bursa with steroids is increasingly being questioned. An equally effective treatment with fewer adverse side effects would be beneficial. Objective To investigate whether administration of dry needling (DN) is noninferior to cortisone injection in reducing lateral hip pain and improving function in patients with GTPS. Methods Forty-three participants (50 hips observed), all with GTPS, were randomly assigned to a group receiving cortisone injection or DN. Treatments were administered over 6 weeks, and clinical outcomes were collected at baseline and at 1, 3, and 6 weeks. The primary outcome measure was the numeric pain-rating scale (0-10). The secondary outcome measure was the Patient-Specific Functional Scale (0-10). Medication intake for pain was collected as a tertiary outcome. Results Baseline characteristics were similar between groups. A noninferiority test for a repeated-measures design for pain and averaged function scores at 6 weeks (with a noninferiority margin of 1.5 for both outcomes) indicated noninferiority of DN versus cortisone injection (both, P<.01). Medication usage (P = .74) was not different between groups at the same time point. No adverse side effects were reported. Conclusion Cortisone injections for GTPS did not provide greater pain relief or reduction in functional limitations than DN. Our data suggest that DN is a noninferior treatment alternative to cortisone injections in this patient population. Level of Evidence Therapy, level 1b. Registered December 2, 2015 at www.clinicaltrials.gov (NCT02639039). J Orthop Sports Phys Ther 2017;47(4):232-239. Epub 3 Mar 2017. doi:10.2519/jospt.2017.6994.

Keywords: glucocorticoid injection; hip pain; methylprednisolone acetate; trigger point dry needling; trochanteric bursitis.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture Therapy / methods
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Arthralgia / drug therapy
  • Arthralgia / therapy*
  • Bursitis / drug therapy
  • Bursitis / therapy
  • Cortisone / administration & dosage
  • Female
  • Femur
  • Glucocorticoids / administration & dosage
  • Hip Joint
  • Humans
  • Injections, Intra-Articular
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myofascial Pain Syndromes / drug therapy
  • Myofascial Pain Syndromes / therapy
  • Needles
  • Physical Therapy Modalities*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Single-Blind Method


  • Glucocorticoids
  • Cortisone

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT02639039