Objective: The aim of the study was to compare the efficacy of radial extracorporeal shock wave therapy and dry needling in the treatment of myofascial trigger points in the upper trapezius muscle.
Design: A total of 65 patients with myofascial trigger points were randomly divided into extracorporeal shock wave therapy group (n = 32) and dry needling group (n = 33). Patients received 3 wks of treatment at 1-wk intervals (in both groups). Visual analog scale, pressure pain threshold, Neck Disability Index, and shear modulus were evaluated before treatment, immediately after the first therapy, 1 mo, and 3 mos after the completion of the third therapy.
Results: Significant improvements of visual analog scale, pressure pain threshold, and Neck Disability Index scores were observed at all time points after treatment (P < 0.01) in both treatment groups. The shear modulus of myofascial trigger points was reduced in both dry needling group (P < 0.05) and extracorporeal shock wave therapy group (P < 0.01) immediately after the first treatment. Significant reductions in shear modulus were maintained up to 3-mo posttreatment in both groups (P < 0.01). There were no significant differences between the radial extracorporeal shock wave therapy group and dry needling group.
Conclusions: The extracorporeal shock wave therapy is as effective as dry needling for relieving pain, improving function, and reducing shear modulus for patients with myofascial trigger points after a series of three treatments.