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Dry Needling Versus Soft Tissue Release to Treat Migraine Headache: a Randomized Clinical Trial

Tahere Rezaeian, Zahra Mosallanezhad, Mohammad Reza Nourbakhsh and Firoozeh Sajedi

Background: Migraine headache is known to be associated with problems such as myofascial trigger points (MTrPs). There are many treatments for myofascial trigger points. In this study, we compared the effectiveness of dry needling and soft tissue techniques to treat symptoms in patients with migraine headache.

Methods: Forty subjects with migraine headache, presenting with MTrPs in the upper trapezius, the sternocleidomastoid, and the sub-occipital muscles, participated in this study. Subjects were divided randomly into two groups of dry needling (DN) and soft tissue techniques. The visual analog scale (VAS), neck disability index (NDI), pressure pain threshold (PPT), and cervical range of motion (CROM) were recorded. These outcomes were assessed before and 48 hours after the post-treatment. Independent t test and paired t-test were used for statistical analysis.

Results: The results showed that both treatment methods significantly reduced the VAS and NDI score, and increased PPT and CROM after treatment compared with before treatment (P<0.05). The findings revealed the soft tissue technique decreased the pain intensity (T=3.23, P=0.003) and the NDI (T=5.52, P<0.001) more than dry needling method. However, no significant difference was found between the two groups in PPT and CROM variables (P>0.05).

Conclusions: The dry needling and soft tissue technique were equally effective in improving symptoms in migraine patients. Therefore, both of techniques may be prescribed for treating migraine patients with MTrPs in cervical muscle.