The aim of this study was to evaluate current evidence of the effectiveness of dry needling of myofascial trigger points (MTrPs) related to neck and shoulder pain. Two reviewers independently screened the articles, scored methodological quality, and extracted data. The results of the study of pain intensity were extracted in the form of mean and SD data. Twenty randomized controlled trials involving 839 patients were identified for meta-analysis. Meta-analyses were performed using RevMan version 5.2 and Stata version 12.0. The results suggested that compared with control/sham, dry needling of MTrPs was effective in the short term (immediately to 3 days) (standardized mean difference [SMD]=-1.91; 95% confidence interval [CI], -3.10 to -.73; P=.002) and medium term (SMD=-1.07; 95% CI, -1.87 to -.27; P=.009); however, wet needling (including lidocaine) was superior to dry needling in relieving MTrP pain in the medium term (SMD=1.69; 95% CI, .40-2.98; P=.01). Other therapies (including physiotherapy) were more effective than dry needling in treating MTrP pain in the medium term (9-28d) (SMD=.62; 95% CI, .02-1.21; P=.04).
According to the review, dry needling can be suggested for alleviated MTrP pain in neck and shoulders in the short and medium term, but wet needling is found to be more effective than dry needling in relieving MTrP pain in neck and shoulders in the medium term.