Dry Needling & Dysmenorrhoea

If you have an interest in dry needling and acupuncture, it is worth utilising the auto email Table of Contents function from AIM (you can set it up here). One of the articles that grabbed my eye in a recent eTOC list was the one reporting on dry needling of rectus abdominis to treat primary dysmenorrhoea.

The viscero-somatic reflex is one of the topics that we examine in the Level 2 Spine & Lower Quadrant Course and this is a great example.

As a bit of background, it would be worth having a look at an earlier 2014 study that used wet needling (lignocaine). The results were pretty amazing. Participants initial details were age, 22 ± 2.5 years and mean VAS pain scores 7.49 ± 1.16. After the first session, 63% of the participants feel beneath the pain inclusion threshold of VAS 3/10 (mean 1.63 ± 0.49). At a 1-year follow-up, all participants (some received a second session) provided data and the mean VAS pain score was 0.28 ± 0.45. Further details are here.

Fast forward to 2018 and dry needling, not wet is being used. You can gander the full article here.

Key points;

  • 3 groups randomly allocated (verum/true, sham/placebo and no needling/control).
  • Single blinding (participant blinded before collection of baseline data, but then informed of group allocation after)
  • All groups undertook abdominal stretching (as in prior study).
  • Single dry needling session of rectus abdominus 2/52 before commencement of menstruation (as in prior study)
  • Significant reduction (p < .001) in pain VAS in verum dry needling group cf. to sham or control
  • Significant reduction (p < .001) in NASAIDs in verum dry needling group cf. to sham or control
Note. Evolution of the intensity of menstrual pain intensity throughout the course of the study stratified by randomised treatment assignment. Data are presented as mean (SE). VAS, visual analogue scale. ** indicates significant differences between groups (ANOVA, P<0.001).

In all, a well designed study (just not sure why participants would have been informed of group allocation after baseline data collection) that includes both verum and sham dry needling (in addition to a control group). The authors report on a single intervention which achieved a significant improvement in both pain and NSAIDs usage. Plus a reduction in pain, greater than the minimally important clinical difference value of 10mm for pain VAS. Meaning, not only was the result statistically significant, but also clinically relevant.