Physical therapists fight back against back pain

ADA TOWNSHIP, Mich. -- Experts say 80 percent of people in the U.S will experience a back problem at some point in their life.

A lot of people think the recovery process ends with physical therapy, but Tom Hulst, co-owner and founder of Hulst Jepsen, says there are several new trends in treating back pain.

One of those new treatments is called dry needling.

"Basically, when you stick the needle in, there's a reflex that happens and that local twitch response produces relaxation of the muscle and pain relief," physical therapist Jen Kornowski said.

Her patient, Lori Zufelt, decided to dry needling six months ago. She has a stenosis and a herniated bulging disk, which she blames it on repetitive lifting at work. She said she used to be on quite a bit of pain medication, but no longer.

"I couldn't go into a store and walk to the back of the store without having to sit down somewhere because the pain was so great in my legs," Zufelt said.  "Now I can pretty much get through the store when I shop. It's a huge difference."

Kornowski says there are NFL players that have a dry needle specialist on their team because it helps them recover from injuries quickly.

The trick is finding the trigger points and fixing them, Kornowski said. The needle is flexible and thin, so it's not like receiving a shot or drawing blood. Plus, dry needling only takes about 30 seconds.

Hulst says dry needling isn't the only new technique helping those with back pain. There's also cupping and Graston technique.

"With cupping, you're just pulling the muscle to release it instead of pushing on it," Kurowski said.

With 12 offices, Hulst Jepsen is the largest independent locally owned physical therapy practice in West Michigan. The new location will be up and running in Lowell in a couple of weeks.

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