FORT SILL, OK – When you think of effective migraine and headache treatment is the Physical Therapy Clinic the first thing to come to mind? June is Neck Pain and Headache Awareness Month and the Physical Therapy Clinic at Reynolds Army Health Clinic (RAHC) is ready, willing, and able to treat all Fort Sill TRICARE Beneficiaries with chronic neck pain and headaches. Dr. Olaoye Akinyemi, or more commonly known as Dr. AK, is a fellowship trained doctor of physical therapy and one of the Physical Therapists at RAHC who specializes in manipulative therapies and is well versed in techniques such as dry needling. “For the month of June, the Physical Therapy clinic is trying to raise awareness of the services we offer at RAHC for headaches and neck pain,” said Akinyemi. “For example, chronic neck pain can often cause headaches that feel like they are staring at the base of your neck and wrapping forward up to the front of your head, “continued Akinyemi, “There are treatment options that are available at the clinic that could help reduce the severity and frequency of the pain and get you back to living a normal life.”
One of the treatment options that Dr. Akinyemi provides is a technique called dry needling. “Dry needling is a way of targeting muscle tissue where I will take an acupuncture needle and insert it into the muscle where there is tightness which helps to relieve the tension in the muscle.” Akinyemi said. “Patients tend to feel sore at first after a dry needling session, however, after 24 to 48 hours you will find that the targeted muscle area will be much looser and will have better mobility.” Despite the hesitation from some patients who may be a bit apprehensive about needles, Dr. Akinyemi says that after one or two sessions the outcomes from the technique far outweigh any initial fears. “I can say that in most cases the dry needling is so effective there is very little need for additional treatment.”
Dry needling is far from Dr. Akinyemi’s only treatment option. “As a specialist in manipulative and manual therapy, if you come to see me for a headache or neck pain I take a look at the muscles in the neck to see if there are any tight spots. I will target the areas with dry needling, of course, but also combine that with physical therapy.” Akinyemi said. “It may feel like you are seeing a chiropractor or acupuncturist for the first couple of visits, but physical therapy is not always just exercises. After the pain is better controlled we can then move into exercises that will be beneficial to prevent pain from returning and help strengthen the treated areas.
“I came to see Dr. Akinyemi because of lower back pain,” said Samantha Shelton, an active duty family member here at Fort Sill who has been seeing Dr. Akinyemi for over three months. “After he fixed my back pain we stared on my neck,” continued Shelton. “Dr. Akinyemi did a lot of dry needling on my lower back and which improved things dramatically, and then we did stretches and therapy to strengthen the mussels. Since we had so much success with my back I brought up the chronic pain I have had in my neck since I was a teenager.” Shelton said. “After only two sessions of dry needling I could tell a significant difference in my neck pain; I could do push-ups without difficulty for the first time in years, and I have been able to pick up my children without pain.”
While Shelton is not completely pain free she said that a lifetime of chronic pain will not totally disappear in just a few short weeks, but is so grateful for the progress that she and Dr. Akinyemi have been able to make in a relatively short time.
There has been a misconception that the Physical Therapy Clinic at RAHC is only available for Active Duty Service Members. While this was true in the past it is currently no longer the case. “All TRICARE Beneficiaries ages 18 through 64 are eligible for any services we provide at the Physical Therapy Clinic at RAHC,” Said Maj. Ben Miller the Chief of Rehabilitative Services at RAHC. “Keep in mind that dependents and retirees will need a referral from their Primary Care Manager (PCM) before they can been seen, but Active Duty Services Members can self-refer and schedule an appointment by coming into the Physical Therapy Clinic.”
“I wish I had known about the dry needling and the other services provided by Dr. Akinyemi sooner,” said Shelton, “as a dependent I didn’t know this was an option at Reynolds, and I wish that more people knew about dry needling in general. It has made such a huge difference than just doing a bunch of stretches, especially when you have had an injury this long.”
For questions regarding any physical therapy services at RAHC call the automated appointment line at 833-286-3732 or you can contact RAHC through the Reynolds Army Health Clinic Facebook page.