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Both superficial and traditional acupuncture show immediate effects on reducing pain caused by trigger points in the upper trapezius muscle, report Taiwanese researchers. Forty people with neck and shoulder pain were randomly allocated to either traditional or superficial acupuncture groups. For traditional acupuncture, needles (0.3 x 40 mm) were inserted and withdrawn several times in each taut band at each trigger point, to elicit one or more localised twitch responses. For superficial acupuncture, ear acupuncture needles (0.2 mm x 2.5 mm) were fully inserted into the skin over each trigger point to a depth of 2.5 mm. All needles were left in place for 20 minutes and then removed. Each subject received two treatments per week over a four-week period. Patients reported significant and immediate improvements in subjective pain and pressure pain threshold of trigger points for both superficial acupuncture and traditional acupuncture after the first treatment, and after two and four weeks. Since superficial acupuncture was associated with less pain on needle insertion, while producing immediate pain relief, the authors recommend it for treating myofascial pain syndrome in the upper trapezius muscle.

Therapeutic Effect of Superficial Acupuncture in Treating Myofascial Pain of the Upper Trapezius Muscle: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2018 Dec 2;2018:9125746).


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