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  • Writer's pictureSimon Coghlan MSc, BSc Physio, DipMedAc

Finding Relief: The Role of Dry Needling in Chronic Neck Pain

Chronic neck pain (CNP) can be a persistent and frustrating condition, often resistant to conventional treatments. It not only impacts daily activities but also diminishes quality of life. However, despite the challenge, there's hope. Recent research sheds light on a promising treatment option for relief: dry needling.


A 2022 systematic review conducted by Rodríguez-Huguet et al., comprising 11 trials and 807 participants, investigated the efficacy of dry needling and physiotherapy (PT) in treating CNP. The findings? Dry needling emerged as a standout contender, demonstrating effectiveness in alleviating CNP. Moreover, the review indicated the superiority of dry needling over placebo interventions.



neck pain physio relief


But the positive momentum continues beyond there. A subsequent systematic review and meta-analysis by Hernández-Secorún et al. in 2023, encompassing 14 studies and 1027 individuals, provided further validation. Their analysis revealed that dry needling reduces pain and enhances functional capacity in CNP patients, particularly in the short and mid-term.


So, what makes dry needling a game-changer in chronic neck pain management?

Unlike traditional acupuncture, which targets specific energy meridians, dry needling focuses on trigger points—tight bands of muscle that cause pain when compressed or stimulated. By precisely inserting thin needles into these trigger points, dry needling prompts a cascade of physiological responses. It stimulates blood flow, releases tension, and promotes the body's natural healing mechanisms, ultimately leading to pain relief and improved function.


One of the advantages of dry needling is its targeted approach. By directly addressing trigger points, it tackles the root cause of pain rather than merely masking symptoms. This targeted intervention yields lasting results, helping individuals to regain control over their lives and pursue activities they once enjoyed.


Moreover, dry needling boasts a good safety profile, with minimal side effects compared to conventional treatments like medication or surgery. This makes it an attractive option for individuals seeking non-invasive, drug-free alternatives for managing CNP.


However, dry needling should be provided under the guidance of a qualified and regulated healthcare professional, such as a physiotherapist. These experts have the necessary skills and knowledge to safely and effectively administer dry needling, ensuring optimal patient outcomes.


In summary, the research evidence speaks volumes: dry needling holds immense promise as a therapeutic modality for chronic neck pain. As we unravel its mechanisms and refine our techniques, the future looks brighter for those battling the burden of CNP.


So, if you're struggling with persistent neck pain, consider exploring dry needling as a treatment option that combines very well with other treatment techniques like manual therapy and exercises —it could be the key to unlocking a pain-free future.


By Simon


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