Review article (meta-analysis)| Volume 99, ISSUE 1, P144-152.e2, January 2018

Evidence for Dry Needling in the Management of Myofascial Trigger Points Associated With Low Back Pain: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis



      To evaluate the current evidence of the effectiveness of dry needling of myofascial trigger points (MTrPs) associated with low back pain (LBP).

      Data Sources

      PubMed, Ovid, EBSCO, ScienceDirect, Web of Science, Cochrane Library, CINAHL, and China National Knowledge Infrastructure databases were searched until January 2017.

      Study Selection

      Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that used dry needling as the main treatment and included participants diagnosed with LBP with the presence of MTrPs were included.

      Data Extraction

      Two reviewers independently screened articles, scored methodologic quality, and extracted data. The primary outcomes were pain intensity and functional disability at postintervention and follow-up.

      Data Synthesis

      A total of 11 RCTs involving 802 patients were included in the meta-analysis. Results suggested that compared with other treatments, dry needling of MTrPs was more effective in alleviating the intensity of LBP (standardized mean difference [SMD], −1.06; 95% confidence interval [CI], −1.77 to −0.36; P=.003) and functional disability (SMD, −0.76; 95% CI, −1.46 to −0.06; P=.03); however, the significant effects of dry needling plus other treatments on pain intensity could be superior to dry needling alone for LBP at postintervention (SMD, 0.83; 95% CI, 0.55–1.11; P<.00001).


      Moderate evidence showed that dry needling of MTrPs, especially if associated with other therapies, could be recommended to relieve the intensity of LBP at postintervention; however, the clinical superiority of dry needling in improving functional disability and its follow-up effects still remains unclear.


      List of abbreviations:

      CI (confidence interval), LBP (low back pain), MD (mean difference), MTrP (myofascial trigger point), Nfs (fail-safe number), RCT (randomized controlled trial), SMD (standardized mean difference)
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