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Physiologic Effects of Dry Needling

Abstract

During the past decades, worldwide clinical and scientific interest in dry needling (DN) therapy has grown exponentially. Various clinical effects have been credited to dry needling, but rigorous evidence about its potential physiological mechanisms of actions and effects is still lacking. Research identifying these exact mechanisms of dry needling action is sparse and studies performed in an acupuncture setting do not necessarily apply to DN. The studies of potential effects of DN are reviewed in reference to the different aspects involved in the pathophysiology of myofascial triggerpoints: the taut band, local ischemia and hypoxia, peripheral and central sensitization. This article aims to provide the physiotherapist with a greater understanding of the contemporary data available: what effects could be attributed to dry needling and what are their potential underlying mechanisms of action, and also indicate some directions at which future research could be aimed to fill current voids.

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Conflict of Interest

Dr. Barbara Cagnie reported no potential conflicts of interest relevant to this article.

Mr. Vincent Dewitte reported no potential conflicts of interest relevant to this article.

Mr. Tom Barbe reported no potential conflicts of interest relevant to this article.

Mr. Frank Timmermans reported no potential conflicts of interest relevant to this article.

Mr. Nicolas Delrue reported no potential conflicts of interest relevant to this article.

Dr. Mira Meeus reported no potential conflicts of interest relevant to this article.

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This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.

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Correspondence to Barbara Cagnie.

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This article is part of the Topical Collection on Myofascial Pain

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Cagnie, B., Dewitte, V., Barbe, T. et al. Physiologic Effects of Dry Needling. Curr Pain Headache Rep 17, 348 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11916-013-0348-5

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11916-013-0348-5

Keywords

  • Myofascial trigger point
  • Myofascial pain syndrome
  • Dry needling
  • Sensitization
  • Physiological Effects
  • Pain physiology