Objectives: To compare the effectiveness of dry needling (DN) versus percutaneous needle electrolysis (PNE) for improving the level of pain, function and quality of life (QoL) of patients suffering from plantar heel pain (PHP) provoked by myofascial trigger points.
Design: A prospective, parallel-group, randomised controlled trial with blinded outcome assessment.
Setting: A single treatment facility in the State of Kuwait.
Participants: 118 participants were screened for eligibility. Of these, 102 participants were enrolled (30 men (49.5±8.9 years) and 72 women (48.1±8.8 years)) and 68 of them completed the trial.
Interventions: Two parallel groups, one study arm received DN and a stretching protocol whereas the other arm received percutaneous needling electrolysis with a stretching protocol.
Primary and secondary outcome measures: The primary outcome measure was the Foot Pain domain of the Foot Health Status Questionnaire, with 13 questions related to foot health-related domains. Secondary outcome measures included the 0-10 numerical rating scale pain visual analogue scale (VAS) scores, performed before and after each treatment session. In addition, QoL was measured using the EuroQoL-5 dimensions. All measurements were taken at baseline, at 4, 8, 12, 26 and 52 weeks.
Results: Foot Pain domain improved at all time points for DN group (p<0.001; 29.7 (17.8 to 41.5)) and percutaneous needling electrolysis group (p<0.001; 32.7 (18.3 to 47.0)), without significant differences between groups. Pain VAS scores decreased at all time points for both DN (p<0.001; -2.6 (-4.0 to -1.2)) and percutaneous needling electrolysis group (p<0.001; -3.0 (-4.5 to -1.6)). QoL improved at 4 weeks for both DN (p<0.01; 0.15 (0.5 to 0.25)) and percutaneous needling electrolysis group (p<0.01; 0.09 (0.01 to 0.17)) and at 8 and 52 weeks for the PNE group (p<0.01; 0.10 (0.02 to 0.18)), with significant differences between groups for the QoL at 52 weeks (p<0.05; 0.10 (0.01 to 0.18)). There were two small haematomas in the PNE group and one in the DN group. No serious adverse events were reported.
Conclusions: Both PNE and DN were effective for PHP management, reducing mean and maximum pain since the first treatment session, with long lasting effects (52 weeks) and significant differences between groups in the case of QoL at 52 weeks in favour of the PNE group.
Trial registration number: NCT03236779.
Keywords: pain management; rehabilitation medicine; sports medicine.
© Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2020. Re-use permitted under CC BY-NC. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ.