Comparison of the effectiveness between dry needling with and without needle retention in myofascial trigger points in upper trapezius muscle: A randomized comparative trial

J Back Musculoskelet Rehabil. 2022;35(6):1247-1255. doi: 10.3233/BMR-210177.


Background: Dry needling (DN) is commonly used to treat myofascial trigger points (MTrPs).

Objective: To compare the effect between DN with and without needle retention in the treatment of MTrPs in the upper trapezius muscle.

Methods: Fifty-four patients who had active MTrPs in the upper trapezius muscle were randomly allocated into the DN group or the DN with retention group. The DN group received DN only, while the DN with retention group received DN with needle retention for 30 minutes. The visual analogue scale (VAS) and pressure pain threshold (PPT) were recorded both before and after 7 and 14 days of the treatment sessions.

Results: Both groups showed a significant decrease of the VAS at 7 and 14 days (mean difference DN group -53.0, DN with retention group -57.0, p< 0.001). The PPT was also significantly improved in both groups (mean difference DN group 109.8 kPa, DN with retention group 132.3 kPa, p< 0.001). However, there were no significant differences in the VAS or PPT between the groups.

Conclusions: Both DN and DN with retention had significant improvement of pain intensity in the treatment of MTrPs in the upper trapezius muscle at 14 days. However, pain reduction was not significantly different between the interventions.

Keywords: Myofascial trigger points; dry needling; needle retention; upper trapezius muscle.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Dry Needling*
  • Humans
  • Myofascial Pain Syndromes* / therapy
  • Pain Threshold
  • Superficial Back Muscles*
  • Trigger Points