Objective: To assess the effectiveness of adding dry needling (DN) to an exercise program on pain intensity and disability in patients with knee osteoarthritis.
Design: Double-blind randomized clinical trial with one-year follow-up.
Setting: Older adults in a multicenter study.
Subjects: Sixty-two patients with knee osteoarthritis were randomly allocated into one of two groups: exercise plus DN (exercise + DN; N = 31) or exercise plus sham DN (exercise + sham DN; N = 31).
Methods: Participants received six sessions of either DN or sham DN over the leg muscles related to knee pain from osteoarthritis plus a supervised exercise program. We evaluated between-group differences in terms of the numerical pain rating scale (NPRS) and Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC) score. We used the EuroQol Group 5-Dimension Self-Report Questionnaire, Barthel Index, Timed Up & Go Test, and Global Rating of Change Scale to examine between-group differences for health-related quality of life, functional status evaluation, balance assessment, and clinical progress, respectively.
Results: The groups were not different in terms of pain intensity (0.32 points, 95% confidence interval [CI] = -1.12 to 1.18, P = 0.92) or WOMAC score (0.29 points, 95% CI = -6.16 to 6.74, P = 0.92) at one year. Both groups presented within-group differences at all follow-up periods (F = 28.349, P < 0.0001, ηp2 = 0.32) on secondary outcomes. Nevertheless, 90.3% of the DN group had reduced medication consumption vs only 26.3% in the sham DN group.
Conclusions: The inclusion of DN to an exercise program does not reduce pain or disability in patients with knee osteoarthritis.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02698072.
Keywords: Disability Evaluation; Exercise; Knee; Musculoskeletal Disorders; Osteoarthritis; Pain; Trigger Points.
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