Mend Physical Therapy Blog and Injury Information

How Effective Is Physical Therapy Dry Needling With Electrical Stimulation?

October 10, 2022

Dry needling is a common treatment intervention provided by Physical Therapists in our Boulder and Lafayette Physical Therapy clinics. When combined with other interventions, including manual therapy and exercise, dry needling can be an effective method to treat sources of myofascial or muscular pain. Dry needling can be performed with or without electrical stimulation. Previous research has examined the impact of dry needling and electrical stimulation on blood flow, pain, range of motion, and function. Significant methodology differences have been observed between these studies among parameters utilized by the treating Physical Therapists. A recent review of the evidence documented the available evidence on the utilization of electrical stimulation with dry needling.

Hadizadeh and colleagues conducted a review of the available medical evidence on the utilization of electrical stimulation with dry needling (Chiropr Man Therap. 2021). Authors included six studies of 158 patients who were treated with this combination of interventions. Available research studies reported on patient outcomes including mobility, pain, function, ability to tolerate pressure, and use of analgesics. All six of the studies performed dry needling in the neck or upper trapezius muscles. Significant differences were found among wave properties, including wave shape and frequency, intensity, and duration of treatment. Half of the studies targeted trigger points with their dry needling intervention. Many of the studies lacked 3 arms of randomization (intervention, placebo, control) or adequate placebo groups to determine the true effects of this treatment. Authors reported preliminary evidence from these smaller studies for the utilization of dry needling and electrical stimulation for improvements in pain.

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