Objective: To review current scientific knowledge as to the efficacy of dry needling of scars on pain and other related symptoms and explore the possible physiological mechanisms of action.
Methods: A narrative review of scientific literature published in English.
Results: Two randomized controlled trials found that dry needling of scars (using the classic "surrounding the dragon" technique in one study and intradermal needling in a second study) was more effective than sham or control interventions with respect to scar appearance and pain. Two case reports have suggested that scar needling generates a rapid decrease in pain and improvement of mobility in scarred tissues. Another two case reports have reported positive effects of scar needling on the wound healing process. These findings are supported by an animal study examining the effect of needling on the wound healing process and the physiological mechanisms of action underlying the technique.
Conclusion: There is preliminary evidence that the "surrounding the dragon" needling technique is a beneficial treatment for patients suffering from scar pain and other scar-related symptoms and can facilitate wound healing and make this process less painful. Further high-quality studies should be conducted to verify/quantify the efficacy of this method, to better understand the underlying mechanisms of action underlying the effects of scar needling and to establish an effective intervention protocol.
Keywords: acupuncture; dry needling; intradermal needling; scar treatment; “surrounding the dragon”.