Comparison of dry needling and ischaemic compression techniques on pain and function in patients with patellofemoral pain syndrome: a randomised clinical trial

Acupunct Med. 2020 Dec;38(6):371-379. doi: 10.1177/0964528420912253. Epub 2020 Apr 27.


Background: To compare the effectiveness of ischaemic compression (IC) applied directly to the knee versus dry needling (DN) with respect to pain, functional status and sensitivity to mechanical stimulation of vastus medialis obliquus (VMO) myofascial trigger points (MTrPs) in patients with patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS).

Methods: A total of 54 patients with unilateral PFPS aged 20-30 years were selected randomly from patients referred to physical therapy clinics of Babol University of Medical Sciences in Iran. Twenty-seven patients were allocated to either IC or DN groups. Three sessions of treatment were applied over 1 week with follow-up at 1 week, 1 month and 3 months. Primary outcome measures comprised the Kujala questionnaire score for functional status, numerical pain rating scale (NPRS) for pain intensity and pressure pain threshold (PPT) for sensitivity to mechanical stimulation; these were measured and recorded before treatment and 1 week, 1 month and 3 months after the last treatment session.

Results: There were no statistically significant differences in the between-group comparisons of any variables at the various follow-up points. Both groups (n = 27 participants each) had significant improvements (p < 0.05) in pain, functional status and PPT values at follow-up.

Conclusions: There were no differences in markers of pain, function or pressure sensitivity over a 3-month follow-up period between patients with PFPS treated with DN and IC. Temporal improvements in both groups suggested that the two techniques may be similarly effective for the treatment of PFPS.

Keywords: dry needling; ischaemic compression; myofascial trigger point; patellofemoral pain syndrome; rehabilitation.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acupressure*
  • Adult
  • Dry Needling*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pain Threshold
  • Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome / therapy*
  • Trigger Points
  • Young Adult

Associated data

  • ISRCTN/IRCT2016062028542N1