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Dry needling and shoulder impingement

Shoulder pain is the most common of the pathological conditions included in rotator cuff disease. Subacromial pain syndrome is a name given to encompass conditions such as rotator cuff tendinopathy, subacromial bursitis, partial rotator cuff tear, biceps tendinopathy, and calcific tendinitis. The most common presentation of subacromial shoulder pain is frozen shoulder, rotator cuff tendinopathy, and myofascial trigger points.

Shoulder impingement occurs when the rotator cuff tendons, long head of biceps, glenohumeral capsule and/or subacromial bursa get trapped between the humeral head and the acromion. Patients may report night pain, radiating shoulder stiffness to the outer arm and elbow, and a notable reduction in range of motion.

First-line intervention for shoulder impingement should be conservative unless imaging shows otherwise. Numerous studies have researched the effectiveness of dry needling compared with placebo on those with shoulder impingement. Dry needling has shown to reduce pain in four weeks, and has even shown benefit after a single session. The most advantageous results were gained when dry needling was combined with manual therapy rather than as an isolated technique. This combination achieved more stable, longer-lasting benefits than application of dry needling in isolation.

Blanco-Diaz, M. et al. (2022). A systematic review of the effectiveness of dry needling in subacromial syndrome. Biology. 11: 243.


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