Post-needling soreness after myofascial trigger point dry needling: Current status and future research

J Bodyw Mov Ther. 2018 Oct;22(4):941-946. doi: 10.1016/j.jbmt.2018.01.003. Epub 2018 Jan 17.


Post-dry needling soreness is a common complication of myofascial trigger point (MTrP) dry needling treatment. The prevention, management and relevance of this complication remain uncertain. This paper examines the current state of knowledge and suggests directions for further studies in this area. MTrPs are hypersensitive nodules in skeletal muscles' taut bands, present in several pain conditions. Dry needling has been recommended for relieving MTrP pain. MTrP dry needling procedures have shown to be associated with post-needling soreness, which is thought to be a consequence of the neuromuscular damage, and hemorrhagic and inflammatory reaction generated by the needle. Postneedling soreness is a very frequent effect after deep dry needling, usually lasting less than 72 h. It may not be especially distressing for most patients. However, patients presenting with higher levels of post-needling soreness, not perceiving dry needling effectiveness in the first session, or not having high myofascial pain intensity before treatment, could be the most likely to find post-needling soreness more distressing, functionally limiting and to abandon treatment. Future research should assess the clinical relevance of post-needling soreness. Post-needling soreness should be considered when investigating dry needling effectiveness since it could overlie the original myofascial pain and influence the patients' pain ratings.

Keywords: Adverse effects; Needles; Pain; Physical therapy modalities; Trigger points.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Fascia
  • Humans
  • Myofascial Pain Syndromes / therapy*
  • Needles
  • Therapy, Soft Tissue / adverse effects*
  • Therapy, Soft Tissue / methods*
  • Trigger Points / physiopathology*