Dry needling versus trigger point compression of the upper trapezius: a randomized clinical trial with two-week and three-month follow-up

J Man Manip Ther. 2019 Jul;27(3):152-161. doi: 10.1080/10669817.2018.1530421. Epub 2018 Oct 15.


Objectives: The purpose of this randomized controlled trial was to investigate the long-term clinical effect of dry needling with two-week and three-month follow up, on individuals with myofascial trigger points in the upper trapezius muscle. Methods: A sample of convenience (33 individuals) with a trigger point in the upper trapezius muscle, participated in this study. The individuals were randomly assigned to two groups: trigger point compression (N = 17) or dry needling (N = 16). Pain intensity, neck disability, and disability of the arm, hand, and shoulder (DASH) were assessed before treatment, after treatment sessions, and at two-week and three-month follow ups. Results: The result of repeated measures ANOVA showed significant group-measurement interaction effect for VAS (p = .02). No significant interaction was found for NPQ and DASH (p > .05). The main effect of measurements for VAS, NPQ, and DASH were statistically significant (p < .0001). The results showed a significant change in pain intensity, neck disability, and DASH after treatment sessions, after two weeks and three months when compared with before treatment scores in both groups. There was no significant difference in the tested variables after two-week or three-month as compared to after treatment sessions between the two groups. However, pain intensity after treatment sessions was significantly different between the two groups (p = .02). Discussion: Dry needling and trigger point compression in individuals with myofascial trigger point in the upper trapezius muscle can lead to three-month improvement in pain intensity and disability.

Keywords: Dry needling; myofascial trigger point; trigger point compression; upper trapezius.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Dry Needling*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Musculoskeletal Manipulations*
  • Myofascial Pain Syndromes / therapy
  • Superficial Back Muscles / physiology*
  • Trigger Points / physiopathology*
  • Young Adult