Hunching over a computer for hours on end can take a toll on your neck and back. In a recent survey, 60% of office workers reported having pain in at least one area in the shoulder, neck, and back. This pain is often centralized in the upper trapezius muscle, and is believed to result from a decrease in blood flow and oxygenation of muscle fibers.
Dry needling, a treatment technique associated with acupuncture and chiropractic, has been suggested as a treatment for this pain. During dry needling treatments, a needle is inserted directly into trigger points within the muscle. Little is known about the effect of dry needling on the trapezius muscle.
A new study sought to determine the influence of dry needling on blood flow and oxygenation in the trapezius muscle. The study involved 20 female office workers who worked full time in an office, with at least 4 hours of computer work daily. Blood flow and oxygen saturation were measured at four points on the upper trapezius muscle both before and after dry needling. Immediately after the needle was withdrawn, blood flow and oxygen saturation were measured. This was repeated both 5 minutes and 15 minutes post-treatment.
Both blood flow and oxygen saturation increased significantly after a single dry needling session, and remained high throughout a 15-minute recovery period. These results suggest that dry needling enhanced blood flow in the trapezius muscle. Further studies are needed to evaluate the long-term effect of dry needling treatments.
Cagnie B, et al. The influence of dry needling of the trapezius muscle on muscle blood flow and oxygenation. J Manipulative Physiological Therapeutics 2012;35(9):685-91. doi: 10.1016/j.jmpt.2012.10.005.