Complaints of Upper Extremity Numbness and Tingling Relieved With Dry Needling of the Teres Minor and Infraspinatus: A Case Report

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Case report.


Abnormal sensation, such as numbness or tingling, is traditionally thought to originate from neural compression. There is limited evidence to support reports of abnormal sensation arising from a trigger point.


The patient was a 60-year-old woman with a primary complaint of right shoulder pain and secondary complaints of neck pain and right upper extremity numbness. Cervical spine neurological examination was unremarkable, and manual examination did not reproduce the patient's arm numbness or tingling symptoms. Compression of a trigger point in the infraspinatus and teres minor reproduced the patient's primary complaint of shoulder pain. The initial intervention included dry needling, which reproduced her upper extremity numbness. Subsequent treatment included manual therapy and exercise.


The patient was seen for a total of 3 visits, including the evaluation. Dry needling was utilized in 2 of her 3 visits. At discharge, she reported complete resolution of pain and altered sensation. Additionally, her scores on the Neck Disability Index, numeric pain-rating scale, and global rating of change exceeded the minimal clinically important difference. These outcomes were maintained at 2- and 12-month follow-up phone calls.


This case report described the examination and use of dry needling in a case where the diagnosis was unclear. Clinicians may consider trigger point referral when examining patients with reports of abnormal sensation, especially when a more common cause cannot be identified.


Therapy, level 5.

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