Knee arthritis is one of the leading causes of disability and reduced activity in the United States. Physical Therapy interventions, including manual therapy and exercise, remain the foundation of conservative care for this diagnosis. When combined, manual therapy and exercise, have been shown to reduce pain, stiffness, weakness, and disability in patients with knee arthritis. These interventions are superior to exercise alone, a wait and see approach, or usual care management. Recently, dry needling, as well as, dry needling with electrical stimulation have been utilized clinicailly in the treatment of knee arthritis. Authors report improved circulation, joint lubrication, and levels of inflammation following dry needling with electrical stimulation.
A recent research article in the Clinical Journal of Pain randomized 242 patients with knee arthritis to one of two groups, manual therapy and exercise or manual therapy and exercise combined with dry needling and electrical stimulation. Participants completed similar manual therapy and exercise programs and were seen 1-2 times per week over a 6 week period. Authors reported significantly better pain and disability scores at 6 weeks and 3 months in the participants who also received dry needling. In addition, participants receiving dry needling were almost twice as likely to have stopped their pain medication use. As expected, a higher percentage of participants in the dry needling group reported a significant improvement in perceived recovery.