Effectiveness of Dry Needling in Chronic Neck Pain.

  • End date
    Dec 30, 2022
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    University of Seville
Updated on 24 April 2022
dry needling
sham treatment
neck exercises


Objectives: To investigate the effect of combining real or placebo dry needling with therapeutic exercise in self-reported pain, pressure pain sensitivity, neck disability, global rating of change (GROC) scale, muscle viscoelastic properties (muscle tone and stiffness) and left/right discrimination ability in adults with chronic non-specific neck pain.

Design: Quantitative, experimental, longitudinal, prospective, and single blinded study.

Subjects: Participants aged between 18 and 60 years, and with non specific neck pain of at least 3 months of evolution.

Methods: Participants will be randomly allocated in four groups: a) isolated use of a home based therapeutic exercise (TE) program (TE Group); b) combination of the exercise program and the use of deep dry needling (DN) in neck shoulder muscles with active or latent myofascial trigger points (MTrPs) in order to elicit local twitch responses (LTR) (TE + local DN Group); c) therapeutic exercise combined with DN applied distally from the muscle areas with MTrPs and, therefore, without, eliciting LTRs (TE + distal DN Group); and d) therapeutic exercise program combined with placebo DN (TE + placebo DN Group).


All groups will be instructed by a physiotherapist in the performance of protocol of neck-shoulder exercises. This program will be carried out at home for at least three days a week during three months. The exercise protocol includes active mobilization, stretching and strengthening (concentric/eccentric, isotonic, and isometric) exercises. All participants will be given a booklet with a detailed description of every single exercise.

Those participants included in any of the DN groups will undergo 3 sessions of treatment (1 session per week during 3 consecutive weeks). In each session, the physiotherapist in charge of the intervention will assess the presence of active or latent MTrPs in severa neck shoulder muscles. The selected muscles have been previously described as having a higher prevalence of MTrPs in adults with chronic neck pain: a) scalene muscles; b) levator scapulae; c) splenius cervicis; d) cervical multifidus; and e) upper trapezius trapezius. The location of the trigger points will be carried out following the recommendations and guidelines described in the literature.

Those in the TE + local DN group will receive deep DN, using a fast-in fast-out technique, as described by Hong. The needle, once inserted in the muscle with a 10 to 20 mm depth, will be mobilized in a quick ascending and descending motion, in order to evoke the so-called LTRs. A minimum of 3 to 6 LTRs will be elicited in each muscle.

For patients in the TE + distal DN group, the deep DN intervention will be carried out in those muscles with MTrPs, but at a remote location from the MTrP area. The same evaluation and intervention protocol previously described for the TE + local DN group will be carried out. The main difference is that, in this group, DN will not elicit LTRs. Instead, DN will be applied at a minimum distance of 1-1.5 cm from the MTrP locus.

Finally, in the TE + placebo DN group, the therapeutic exercise program will be combined with DN using using a Dong Bang placebo needle, similar to the Streitberger placebo needle. These needles are designed with a retractable system. Therefore, these placebo needles evoke mechanical stimulation without piercing the skin; hence, patients experience a pressure sensation similar to that of a "real" needle.

Condition Neck Pain
Treatment Exercise, Dry needling and exercise, Sham dry needling and exercise, Local Dry needling and exercise, Distal Dry needling and exercise
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT03844802
SponsorUniversity of Seville
Last Modified on24 April 2022


Yes No Not Sure

Inclusion Criteria

Diagnosis of non-specific mechanical neck pain
Pain lasting for more than 3 months of duration
Self-reported pain higher than 3 in the Numeric Pain Rating Scale
Self-reported neck disability higher than 5 in the Neck Disability Index

Exclusion Criteria

Absence of pain during passive neck rotation
Higher pain intensity in neutral position than during passive neck rotation
Absence of ipsilateral pain during passive neck rotation
Previous history of surgery of the cervical spine or upper extremity
Previous history of whiplash, diagnosis of fibromyalgia, or any neurological, inflammatory or rheumatological disease
Presence of two or more positive signs indicative of neural compression (sensitivity disorders, myotomic weakness in the upper extremities, or alteration in deep tendon reflexes)
Radiological signs of root compression or spinal stenosis
Having received physical therapy treatment in the month prior to the start of the study
Analgesic and / or anti-inflammatory treatment in the last 72 h
Diagnosis of psychiatric disorders with ongoing medical treatment
Pregnancy or breastfeeding
Pending litigation in progress
Any contraindication to the use of dry needling
Clear my responses

How to participate?

Step 1 Connect with a study center
What happens next?
  • You can expect the study team to contact you via email or phone in the next few days.
  • Sign up as volunteer to help accelerate the development of new treatments and to get notified about similar trials.

You are contacting

Investigator Avatar

Primary Contact



Additional screening procedures may be conducted by the study team before you can be confirmed eligible to participate.

Learn more

If you are confirmed eligible after full screening, you will be required to understand and sign the informed consent if you decide to enroll in the study. Once enrolled you may be asked to make scheduled visits over a period of time.

Learn more

Complete your scheduled study participation activities and then you are done. You may receive summary of study results if provided by the sponsor.

Learn more

Similar trials to consider


Browse trials for

Not finding what you're looking for?

Every year hundreds of thousands of volunteers step forward to participate in research. Sign up as a volunteer and receive email notifications when clinical trials are posted in the medical category of interest to you.

Sign up as volunteer

user name

Added by • 



Reply by • Private

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur, adipisicing elit. Ipsa vel nobis alias. Quae eveniet velit voluptate quo doloribus maxime et dicta in sequi, corporis quod. Ea, dolor eius? Dolore, vel!

  The passcode will expire in None.

No annotations made yet

Add a private note
  • abc Select a piece of text from the left.
  • Add notes visible only to you.
  • Send it to people through a passcode protected link.
Add a private note