The Effects of Dry Needling on Patients With Knee Pain

  • End date
    Aug 10, 2023
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    Ohio State University
Updated on 10 May 2022
knee pain
dry needling


This study is testing the effectiveness of "dry needling" for pain management and on muscle strength and leg function for those with knee pain. Dry needling consists of small, monofilament needles that are administered directly into the tissue and manipulated to make the muscle relax for pain relief. This technique is used to treat dysfunctions in skeletal muscle and connective tissue to help diminish pain, reduce impairments of body structure and restore function.


This project will evaluate the effects of dry needling on pain, muscle performance, and function in those with patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS) of the knee. Variables of interest will include self-reported pain scores, self-reported functional outcome and disability questionnaire scores, and various objective clinical measures including muscle strength, joint range of motion, and movement patterns during basic tasks related to activities of daily living. Patients who are referred to physical therapy with PFPS will be recruited. Patients will be randomly and equally allocated into one of the following groups: 1. Gluteal dry needling (GLUTE) 2. Quadriceps dry needling (QUAD) 3. Sham gluteal dry needling (SHAM GLUTE) 4. Sham quadriceps dry needling (SHAM QUAD) 5. Control group (CONTROL) Groups 1-4 will receive 2 sessions of dry needling or sham dry needling to the gluteal and/or quadricpes muscles on their painful lower limb over 2 consecutive weeks in addition to standard physical therapy. The CONTROL group will only receive standard physical therapy. The sham treatment groups (groups 3-4) will receive a placebo treatment that does not penetrate the skin or muscles. Measurements will be performed at baseline prior to any physical therapy interventions and then at week 3.

Condition Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome, Anterior Knee Pain Syndrome
Treatment Dry needling, Physical therapy, Sham Dry Needling
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT02890485
SponsorOhio State University
Last Modified on10 May 2022


Yes No Not Sure

Inclusion Criteria

-40 years-of-age
Referred for physical therapy
Presence of anterior knee pain around the patella during ascending/descending stairs, squatting, and/or running for at least 3 months

Exclusion Criteria

Unable to provide consent
Bilateral patellofemoral pain syndrome
Received previous dry needling treatments
History of pain less than 3 months
Imaging demonstrating the presence of confounding internal abnormality (e.g. chondral defects, ligamentous injury, and/or meniscal pathology)
Patellar instability
Presence of a neurological condition that would affect movement
Contraindications to dry needling techniques (e.g. a history of bleeding disorders, phobia of needles, an active cancer diagnosis, and presence of other systemic illness such as fever or signs of infection)
Actively receiving treatment for knee pain outside of the current study protocol while enrolled in the study
received active and supervised PT treatment for knee pain within the last 4 weeks
history of knee surgery less than 6 months ago
history of surgical correction of the patellofemoral complex (e.g. MPFL reconstruction, patellar realignment surgery, etc)
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