Affordable Access

Publisher Website

Is Dry Needling Effective for the Management of Plantar Heel Pain or Plantar Fasciitis? An Updated Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.

  • Llurda-Almuzara, Luis1
  • Labata-Lezaun, Noé1
  • Meca-Rivera, Toni1, 2
  • Navarro-Santana, Marcos J3
  • Cleland, Joshua A4
  • Fernández-de-Las-Peñas, César5, 6
  • Pérez-Bellmunt, Albert1
  • 1 Universitat Internacional de Catalunya (UIC-Barcelona), Barcelona, Spain. , (Spain)
  • 2 Médico Quirónsalud Aribau, Barcelona, Spain. , (Spain)
  • 3 Department of Radiology, Rehabilitation and Physiotherapy, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Madrid, Spain. , (Spain)
  • 4 Doctor of Physical Therapy Program, Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
  • 5 Department of Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Universidad Rey Juan Carlos (URJC), Alcorcón, Madrid, Spain. , (Spain)
  • 6 Cátedra Institucional en Docencia, Clínica e Investigación en Fisioterapia: Terapia Manual, Punción Seca y Ejercicio Terapéutico, Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, Alcorcón, Madrid, Spain. , (Spain)
Published Article
Pain medicine (Malden, Mass.)
Publication Date
Jul 25, 2021
DOI: 10.1093/pm/pnab114
PMID: 33760098


Dry needling is commonly used for the management of plantar fasciitis. This meta-analysis evaluated the effects of dry needling over trigger points associated with plantar heel pain on pain intensity and related disability or function. Electronic databases were searched for randomized controlled trials in which at least one group received dry needling, not acupuncture, for trigger points associated with plantar heel pain and in which outcomes were collected on pain intensity and related disability. The risk of bias was assessed with the Cochrane Risk of Bias tool, methodological quality was assessed with the Physiotherapy Evidence Database (PEDro) score, and the level of evidence is reported according to the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development, and Evaluation (GRADE) approach. Between-groups mean differences (MD) and standardized mean differences (SMD) were calculated. The search identified 297 publications, with six trials eligible for inclusion. The meta-analysis found low-quality evidence that trigger point dry needling reduces pain intensity in the short term (MD -1.70 points, 95% confidence interval [CI] -2.80 to -0.60; SMD -1.28, 95% CI -2.11 to -0.44) and moderate-quality evidence that it improves pain intensity (MD -1.77 points, 95% CI -2.44 to -1.11; SMD -1.45, 95% CI -2.19 to -0.70) and related disability (SMD -1.75, 95% CI -2.22 to -1.28) in the long term, as compared with a comparison group. The risk of bias of the trials was generally low, but the heterogeneity of the results downgraded the level of evidence. Moderate- to low-quality evidence suggests a positive effect of trigger point dry needling for improving pain intensity and pain-related disability in the short term and long term, respectively, in patients with plantar heel pain of musculoskeletal origin. The present results should be considered with caution because of the small number of trials. © The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Academy of Pain Medicine. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: [email protected]

Report this publication


Seen <100 times