Wide variation in the use of dry needling is problematic

A study carried out by Danish and Canadian researchers and published in the Journal of Manipulative and Psychological Therapeutics, shows big differences in how chiropractors use dry needling as a treatment option. This is a problem because it is difficult to standardize treatments across clinics (to ensure similar effects) if practitioners perform dry needling in radically different ways. But perhaps standardization is even more important within each individual clinic, because if the patient experiences variation in the treatment, it reduces the patient's degree of comfort and trust in the treatment.

The study was conducted as a focused systematic literature review and meta-analysis of 26 RCTs from the electronic databases PubMed and Cochrane. The aim was to perform a systematic evaluation of the use of dry needling.

From the reported data, it appears that there is no standard for the type of needles used in dry needling treatment, but there is a high prevalence of use of acupuncture-type needles.

The variation in the types of needles used and the different treatment methods indicate that there is a big difference in the approach to dry needling among chiropractors who use the treatment method.

Furthermore, the researchers identified 12 different treatment methods. The most common treatment method was the "quick in - quick out" method. By combining the treatment methods that resembled each other, the 12 methods were reduced to 8 archetypes.

They also found indication that adaptation of dry needling use is common, e.g., with the use of different sized needles according to anatomical variation and differences in how long the needles are used.

The findings indicate significant inconsistencies in the technology and adaptation, condition, and modification of individual dry needling procedures.

The researchers propose that chiropractors who practice dry needling use specially made dry needling needles in their treatment, and that the standardized guideline for reporting non-pharmacological treatment is extended to ensure uniform use of dry needling.

Corrie Myburgh, Katrine Kildsgaard, Thomas Damsgaard, Kim Corfixen, Eleanor Boyle. Consistency of Dry-Needling Interventions Across High-Quality Randomized Trials: A Critical Systematic Exploration of Intervention Reporting and Fidelity. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 2021. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0161475421001159?via%3Dihub