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Stick a Needle in my Calf? Are you Kidding? Dry Needling Successfully Treats Journalist’s Heel Pain

My right heel had been hurting for weeks.

Physical Therapist Kelly Shinall of Cornerstone Rehabilitation in Oxford, treats Alyce  Krouse of Oxford with dry needling, a technique of inserting a needle into the patient’s problem area to manipulate it. Shinall is one of only 48 PT’s certified in the procedure in Mississippi. Unlike in acupuncture, the needles are used to actually manipulate and treat the painful area.  Photo courtesy Stan O’Dell
Physical Therapist Kelly Shinall of Cornerstone Rehabilitation in Oxford, treats Alyce Krouse of Oxford with dry needling, a technique of inserting a needle into the patient’s problem area to manipulate it. Shinall is one of only 48 PT’s certified in the procedure in Mississippi. Unlike in acupuncture, the needles are used to actually manipulate and treat the painful area.
Photo courtesy Stan O’Dell

A lot. All the time.

My orthopedic surgeon diagnosed me with plantar fasciitis, a common foot problem where the fascia that runs along the bottom of the foot becomes inflamed, causing pain in the heel.

I had a steroid shot and took anti-inflammatories. I went to physical therapy. I stretched, strengthened, taped and iced that foot.

Nothing helped for long.

Then my physical therapist, Kelly Shinall at Cornerstone Rehabilitation. suggested dry needling.

“Umm, what is that?” I asked.

She explained the procedure is nothing like acupuncture, but rather involves physically manipulating the problem area with a needle she inserts into it. She then uses the needle to help untangle the twisted fibers that are contributing to the pain. In my case, tight calf muscles were pulling on the fascia.

“Let’s try it,” I said, although I doubted it could really work. That doubt quickly left me though and I became a believer.

Did it hurt? Very little. Often, I was not even sure she had put the needle in yet until she began moving it.

What I did feel was the muscle jump when she hit the right spot and released the fibers. But I looked forward to that jump because it meant good things were happening.

The treatment did not miraculously cure me overnight. But over several treatments, the pain gradually subsided until it was completely gone.

Since then, my foot has been pain-free. And needles? I’m a big fan of them now.

Read this story for more on Shinall and dry needling.

Robin Street is a lecturer at the Meek School of Journalism and New Media and can be reached at rbstreet@olemiss.edu.

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