Adverse events following trigger point dry needling: a prospective survey of chartered physiotherapists

Trigger point dry needling (TrP-DN) is frequently administered to treat individuals with myofascial pain, but no studies exist at this time investigating its safety. The objective the authors had for this study was to determine the incidence of Adverse Events (AEs) associated with the use of TrP-DN by a sample of physiotherapists in Ireland. They conducted a prospective survey made up of two forms recording mild and significant AEs. Physiotherapists who had completed TrP-DN training with the David G Simons Academy (DGSA) were eligible to take part in their study. Data were collected over a ten-month period. In their study, 39 physiotherapists participated and 1463 (19.18%) mild AEs were reported in 7629 treatments with TrP-DN. No significant AEs were reported giving an estimated upper risk rate for significant AEs of less than or equal to (≤) 0.04%. Common AEs included bruising (7.55%), bleeding (4.65%), pain during treatment (3.01%), and pain after treatment (2.19%). Uncommon AEs were aggravation of symptoms (0.88%), drowsiness (0.26%), headache (0.14%), and nausea (0.13%). Rare AEs were fatigue (0.04%), altered emotions (0.04%), shaking, itching, claustrophobia, and numbness, all 0.01%.

Although mild AEs were frequently reported in their study of TrP-DN, no significant AEs occurred. It was concluded from the study that among physiotherapists surveyed, TrP-DN seemed to be a safe treatment.