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Dry needling efficacy disagreement

 •  • by Paul Ingraham
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Weekly nuggets of pain science news and insight, usually 100-300 words, with the occasional longer post. The blog is the “director’s commentary” on the core content of a library of major articles and books about common painful problems and popular treatments. See the blog archives or updates for the whole site.

Fresh science fight! A recent-ish review (Boyles 2015) concluded that poking sore spots with fine needles is probably helpful … strange as that may sound. (Yes, “dry needling” is actually a treatment for musculoskeletal pain.) Venere and Ridgeway think that the “strongly worded conclusion overstates the findings of the actual data,” and they make their case in this formal gripe to The Journal of Manual & Manipulative Therapy. They imply that Boyles et al. wrote a biased review in favour of needling, and they have responded with their own bias against it, and that’s cool: this is basically how science works. Again, strange as that may sound!

So we have experts who think the evidence is strongly positive, and experts who say “nonsense!” So how positive is it? Is it positive at all? Unknown. Boyles’ probably should stuck with a boring more-study-needed conclusion, because the evidence is conflicting and it just can’t be called yet. But it’s super rare for conflicting evidence lead to a happy ending, so place your bets!