Dry Needling and Management of Trigger Points with Low Back Pain: An Evidence to Practice Review


  • Matthew Drescher Indiana State University
  • Matthew Rivera
  • Lindsey Eberman




Functional Testing, Manual Techniques, Patient-Reported Outcomes


Low back pain is a common health concern. The development of myofascial trigger points due to low back pain can cause debilitating pain and loss of functional movement in patients. Dry needling is a minimally invasive procedure that has shown to be useful in the treatment of myofascial trigger points when used with other forms of treatment. However, the literature surrounding dry needling and myofascial trigger points in patients with low back pain is lacking. The guiding systematic review and meta-analysis sought to analyze the effectiveness of dry needling for patients with low back pain. The review utilized eight databases for randomized controlled trials and selected 11 of 784 articles for analysis based on inclusion and exclusion criteria. A 6-subgroup meta-analysis was conducted on these studies, and 6 of the 11 studies were found to have high risk of bias. The included studies used both pain measurements and functional measurements including the visual analogue scale (VAS), Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), and the Roland-Morris Disability Questionnaire (RDQ). The studies did not include objective functional measurements. Overall researchers found a clinically meaningful decrease in outcome scores in the short-term, but there were no significant differences in pain or functional outcomes through long-term follow-up. This seems to correlate with the current literature on dry needling and its inflammatory effects on the body, suggesting that dry needling alone does not provide any long-term effect on myofascial trigger points in patients with low back pain. Dry needling should be combined with other treatments and high-quality rehabilitation to provide longer-lasting results and better treatment outcomes for patients with low back pain.






Evidence to Practice Reviews