Dry Needling as a Treatment Modality for Tendinopathy: a Narrative Review

Vladimir Stoychev, Aharon S. Finestone, Leonid Kalichman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Purpose of Review: Tendinopathy describes a combination of pain, swelling, and impaired performance of the tendon and around structures. There are various treatment options for tendinopathy with unclear efficacy. Dry needling involves inserting needles into the affected tendon, and it is thought to disrupt the chronic degenerative process and encourage localized bleeding and fibroblastic proliferation. The purpose of this review is to review the use of dry needling as a treatment modality for tendinopathy. Recent Findings: The effectiveness of dry needling for treatment of tendinopathy has been evaluated in 3 systematic reviews, 7 randomized controlled trials, and 6 cohort studies. The following sites were studied: wrist common extensor origin, patellar tendon, rotator cuff, and tendons around the greater trochanter. There is considerable heterogeneity of the needling techniques, and the studies were inconsistent about the therapy used after the procedure. Most systematic reviews and randomized controlled trials support the effectiveness of tendon needling. There was a statistically significant improvement in the patient-reported symptoms in most studies. Some studies reported an objective improvement assessed by ultrasound. Two studies reported complications. Summary: Current research provides initial support for the efficacy of dry needling for tendinopathy treatment. It seems that tendon needling is minimally invasive, safe, and inexpensive, carries a low risk, and represents a promising area of future research. In further high-quality studies, tendon dry needling should be used as an active intervention and compared with appropriate sham interventions. Studies that compare the different protocols of tendon dry needling are also needed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-140
Number of pages8
JournalCurrent Reviews in Musculoskeletal Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2020


  • Acupuncture
  • Dry needling
  • Needle tenotomy
  • Tendinopathy
  • Tendon fenestration


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