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Does Dry Needling Help Arthritis?

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Introduction to Dry Needling and Arthritis

Dry needling is a technique that involves inserting a thin needle into trigger points in the muscle to release tension and reduce pain. While it is not a cure for arthritis, dry needling can be a helpful tool in managing symptoms for some arthritis patients.

While the research is limited, some studies suggest that dry needling can be effective for other forms of arthritis as well. For example, a study on patients with rheumatoid arthritis found that dry needling can improve grip strength and reduce pain in the hand and wrist.

It is important to note that dry needling is not suitable for all arthritis patients. Patients with inflammatory arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis, should consult their doctor before trying dry needling. Additionally, patients should only receive dry needling from a licensed and experienced practitioner.

The Latest Research: Dry Needling on Osteoarthritis of the Knees

Knee osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that affects millions of people worldwide. While various treatments exist, such as medication and physical therapy, many patients continue to experience pain and limited range of motion.

Dry needling is a technique that has gained popularity in recent years as a method for alleviating pain and improving range of motion. This technique involves inserting a thin needle into trigger points in the muscle to release tension and reduce pain. However, the effectiveness of dry needling in knee osteoarthritis patients remains controversial. This study aimed to evaluate the effects of dry needling on unilateral muscles around the hip and knee joints in female patients with mild to moderate knee osteoarthritis.

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Method

This double-blind randomized clinical trial included 40 female patients with mild to moderate knee osteoarthritis, aged 45-70 years old. Patients were recruited if they had any trigger points around the hip or knee joints of the examined side and were randomized into two groups. Pain, trigger point sensitivity, balance, and function were measured by visual analogue scale, algometer, Y-balance test, timed up and go, self-paced walk tests, and KOOS questionnaire, respectively, before and after intervention. The intervention group received three sessions of dry needling on marked trigger points, while the sham group received sham treatment consisting of only the plastic cover of a needle. Both groups were re-examined two weeks after the primary evaluation.

Results

Comparing the results before and after implementing dry needling revealed significant improvements in all measured variables in the treatment group. In contrast, pain and timed up and go increased, and peak pain pressure decreased in the sham group. Between-group comparison revealed significant differences in all variables.

Conclusion

This study demonstrates that using three sessions of dry needling can increase functional activity, sensitivity, and balance and decrease pain in patients with knee osteoarthritis in the short term. While more research is necessary to determine the long-term effects of this technique, dry needling is a promising treatment option for those with mild to moderate knee osteoarthritis. Patients who have trigger points in the muscle around the hip and knee joints could benefit from dry needling as a non-invasive and effective method to alleviate pain and improve function.

References:

  1. "Effectiveness of Dry Needling for Upper-Quarter Myofascial Pain: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis." This study evaluates the effectiveness of dry needling for myofascial pain in the upper quarter of the body. The study found that dry needling is a safe and effective treatment for reducing pain and improving function in patients with upper-quarter myofascial pain. Link: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7439285/
  2. "Dry needling for myofascial trigger point pain: a clinical commentary." This article provides a clinical commentary on the use of dry needling for myofascial trigger point pain. The commentary includes an overview of the technique, its potential benefits and risks, and the evidence supporting its use. Link: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5550569/
William H. McDaniel, MD

Dr. Robert H. Shmerling is the former clinical chief of the division of rheumatology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), and is a current member of the corresponding faculty in medicine at Harvard Medical School.

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