Archives 2016

Dry Needling on Muscle Strength

The immediate effect of dry needling on multifidus muscles' function in healthy individuals

Physiotherapists are always searching for ways to help our clients recover faster from injury.  The healing process, stages and timeframes, are relatively fixed.  However, focusing on faster improvements in motor control around the affected tissues seems to give earlier returns to function.


The study cited here looked at the immediate effects of dry needling on the lumbar multifidus muscles.  Ultrasound imaging was used pre and post needling at rest and during an active straight leg extension in prone.


Significant differences in muscle recruitment were noted post procedure specific to the spinal segments needled.  This was not noted in the controls nor in the non needled levels.


The authors concluded: “An improvement of back muscle function following dry needling procedure in healthy individuals was found. This implies that dry needling might stimulate motor nerve fibers and as such increase muscle activity.”


This study agrees with what we see clinically, an immediate increase in muscle strength on manual testing immediately post procedure.  This may be an opportunity to activate more of the required muscle fibre for the motor control exercises we prescribe and may more quickly allow the patient to achieve a functional level.  However, the lack of effect on non needled segments highlights the importance of accurate assessment and precise needling in the success of the procedure.


Dar G, Hicks GE.  The immediate effect of dry needling on multifidus muscles' function in healthy individuals.  J Back Musculoskelet Rehabil. 2015 Sep 6. [Epub ahead of print]