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Vol. 23. Issue 1.
Pages 3-11 (01 January 2019)
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Vol. 23. Issue 1.
Pages 3-11 (01 January 2019)
Systematic Review
DOI: 10.1016/j.bjpt.2018.08.008
The effectiveness of dry needling for patients with orofacial pain associated with temporomandibular dysfunction: a systematic review and meta-analysis
Clécio Viera, Marina Barbosa de Almeidab, Marcos Lisboa Nevesa, Adair Roberto Soares dos Santosa, Marcelo Anderson Brachta,b,
Corresponding author

Corresponding author at: Departamento de Fisioterapia, Centro das Ciências do Esporte e da Saúde – CEFID, Rua Pascoal Simone, 358, Coqueiros, CEP: 88030350, Florianópolis, SC, Brazil.
a Department of Neuroscience, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina (UFSC), Florianópolis, SC, Brazil
b Department of Physical Therapy, Universidade do Estado de Santa Catarina (UDESC), Florianópolis, SC, Brazil

  • Dry needling (DN) is commonly used for Orofacial pain treatment.

  • DN is better than other interventions for pain in the short-term.

  • DN is better than sham therapy on pressure pain threshold in the short-term.

  • Due to the very low quality of evidence and the small effect size, caution is needed.

  • Randomized controlled trials of high methodological quality are needed.

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Table 1. Summary of randomized clinical trials included in the review.

Orofacial pain of myofascial origin is often associated with temporomandibular joint dysfunction, affects chewing muscles and may lead to functional limitations. Dry needling is an intervention commonly used for inactivating myofascial pain trigger points.


To systematically review the effects of dry needling on orofacial pain of myofascial origin in patients with temporomandibular joint dysfunction.


This systematic review has pain intensity as primary outcome. Searches were conducted on April 13th, 2018 in eight databases, without publication date restrictions. We selected randomized controlled trials published in English, Portuguese, or Spanish, with no restrictions regarding subject ethnicity, age or sex.


Seven trials were considered eligible. There was discrepancy among dry needling treatment protocols. Meta-analysis showed that dry needling is better than other interventions for pain intensity as well as than sham therapy on pressure pain threshold, but there is very low-quality evidence and a small effect size. There were no statistically significant differences in other outcomes.


Clinicians can use dry needling for the treatment of temporomandibular joint dysfunction, nevertheless, due the low quality of evidence and high risk of bias of some included studies, larger and low risk of bias trials are needed to assess the effects of dry needling on orofacial pain associated with temporomandibular joint dysfunction.

Dry needling
Orofacial pain
Temporomandibular disorder
Myofascial pain
Trigger point


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