Kesha King, a physical therapist at the Southeast Georgia Health System Outpatient Rehabilitation Care Center in Brunswick, applies dry needling to a patient.

Kesha King hates seeing anyone in pain, so it only makes sense she would pursue a career in the medical field.

As a physical therapist at the Southeast Georgia Health System Outpatient Rehabilitation Care Center in Brunswick, she always looks for new and innovative ways to treat patients. One of the techniques she has found much success with is called dry needling. Prescribed by a doctor as part of a physical therapy program, the treatment is covered by most insurances, including Medicare and Medicaid.

The procedure goes a long way toward providing relief for those suffering from a variety of ailments.

“Dry needling is a process that can help make patients feel better faster. Prescribed as part of the overall physical therapy plan of care, dry needling is a more proficient process that decreases the amount of time it takes to get a patient to achieve maximum therapeutic potential,” King said.

During treatments, disposable, thin filiform needles penetrate the skin and stimulate trigger points of muscular shortness and tightness. It can also be applied to connective tissues, to manage neuromuscular pain and movement impairments.

By passing the needle through the skin into the muscle or connective tissue, the physical therapist can use the needle to manipulate the tissue to help lengthen it, which prompts it to relax.

The therapy is used to manage pain, elongate and relax muscles and connective tissue, thereby increasing flexibility and mobility. Dry needling can also be integrated with electrical stimulation to enhance its effectiveness.

It is a skilled intervention now being offered in conjunction with other physical therapy treatments, King said. Conditions typically treated by dry needling include fibromyalgia, injury or trauma, as well as chronic or acute conditions such as tennis or golfer’s elbow and achilles tendonitis. The technique can be applied to most parts of the body.

During treatments, King can identify with her patients because she had the technique done multiple times during certification training.

“Everything I’m doing to a patient I have had done to myself,” she said.

Since gaining her certification from the Dry Needling Institute, she has become a big believer in the technique. Each treatment is also customized for a patient’s particular situation. A typical treatment takes 20-30 minutes, but she stresses there is not a standard protocol.

“Each dry needling treatment session is patient-centered and personalized to the individual patient’s response,” she said. “Before beginning dry needling, it is important for patients to trust and fully understand how the technique can benefit them.”

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