Severe adverse effects (AE) following dry needling (DN) application are possible?
Yes of course, but very rare!
The incidence of pneumothorax, probably the most common of all the severe AE, is around 1 case per 1.1 million acupuncture treatments (White et al 2009).
Should we be afraid of that? Afraid no, aware absolutely yes!
Safety first! This should always be the PTs’ mantra concerning all different kinds of interventions: exercises, manual techniques (HVLATs), electro physical agents and DN too.
Can we prevent the occurrence of AE following DN? Yes, we can!
“All traumatic injuries could have been avoided if clinicians had better anatomy knowledge”.
This is the conclusion of Peuker & Gronemever (2001) in a survey on AE following acupuncture treatments.
This is exactly the priority of the David G. Simons-courses on Dry Needling. Surface and topographical anatomy knowledge and its clinical application, adherence to hygiene rules, excluding contraindication, and a good needling technique is all we need to practice a safe dry needling!
Any doubt? Don’t worry: guidelines for safe dry needling exist! (McEvoy et al 2012, Bachman et al 2014)
A nice study of Brady et al (2014) investigated the occurrence of adverse effects following 7.629 dry needling treatments delivered by 51 Irish PTs trained with the DGSA. Mean experience 10 years (range 1-30). No severe adverse effects were reported!
So what? Dry needling correctly applied can be considered a safe treatment… at least in Ireland =)
And what about indications and clinical efficacy of dry needling? That’s another story… see the upcoming posts!
Diego Leoni, Pt, MSc, OPMT, DGSA instructor