Int J Sports Phys Ther. 2015 Feb;10(1):104-13.
The use of dry needling for a subject with acute onset of neck pain: a case report.
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE:
Neck pain is a common complaint treated by the physical therapist. Trigger points (TrPs) have been studied as a source of neuromusculoskeletal pain, though the ability of clinicians to accurately locate a TrP is not well supported. Dry needling (DN) is an intervention utilized by physical therapists where a monofilament needle is inserted into soft tissue in order to reduce pain thereby facilitating return to prior level of function. The purpose of this case report is to report the outcomes of DN as a primary treatment intervention for acute, non-specific cervical region pain.
The subject was an active 64-year-old female who self- referred for cervical pain following lifting heavy boxes while moving into a new home. She had a history of multi-level cervical fusion and recurrent cervical pain that physical therapy helped to control over the past few years. Physical examination supported a diagnosis of acute cervical region strain. Objective findings included decreased cervical active range of motion (AROM) and upper extremity strength, as well as, reproduction of pain symptoms upon palpation indicating the likelihood of TrPs in the right upper trapezius, levator scapula, supraspinatus, and infraspinatus musculature. She was treated using DN to the aforementioned muscles for two sessions, and no other interventions were performed in order to determine the effectiveness of DN as a primary intervention strategy without other interventions masking the effects of DN.
Clinically meaningful improvements were noted in pain and disability, as measured by the Neck Disability Index and Quadruple Visual Analog Scale. Physical examination denoted minimal to no change in cervical AROM (likely associated with multi-level fusion), except for right lateral flexion, and no change in shoulder flexion/ abduction MMT.
The patient was able to return to daily and work activities without further functional limitations caused by pain. This case report shows promising outcomes for the use of DN in the treatment of non-specific cervical region strain. Further research is recommended to determine if DN is clinically beneficial independent of other therapeutic interventions/ postural corrections such as general or specific exercises targeting the affected musculature, or other “manual” therapy techniques such as manipulation or non-thrust mobilization.
LEVEL OF EVIDENCE:
Cervical strain; dry needling; myofascial trigger points; neck pain