Hip arthritis is a painful condition causing pain, loss of range of motion, and lost function in many middle to older aged adults. The pain from hip arthritis is multifactorial in nature arising from the cartilage and joint surfaces as well as the surrounding soft tissues. Physical Therapy consisting of manual therapy and strength training remains the first line treatment for patients with hip arthritis. High level exercise has previously been shown to preserve the patient’s native hip delaying the need for a total joint replacement. Previous research has documented the benefits of joint mobilization and manipulation in patients with hip arthritis, but recent research has highlighted the benefits of dry needling by Physical Therapists in this condition.
Ceballos-Laita and colleagues conducted a double blind, randomized controlled trial on the effectiveness of dry needling in patients with hip arthritis (Musculoskelet Sci Pract. 2019). 30 patients were randomized to either dry needling or a sham needling group for 3 treatment sessions. Patients’ pain, function (gait and strength), and range of motion was assessed at baseline at at the conclusion of the treatment sessions. Authors found significant improvements in pain, range of motion, and function after the dry needling treatment compared to the sham group. Interestingly, the sham group reported increased pain and decreased hip range of motion at the conclusion of the trial. This study indicates dry needling may be included in a Physical Therapy treatment plan for patients with hip arthritis to reduce pain and facilitate a rapid transition to an exercise program.