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Frankly Health

By Students for Students

Alternative Medical Therapies

Are Pills the Best Answer?


By: Carina Dillon 


February 8, 2018


Dry needling is a technique used in physical therapy that was first introduced in the 1940’s by Dr. Janet Travell. She discovered that the human body consisted of certain areas which she called trigger points. After this discovery, Travell and Dr. David Simon worked together to find and map out almost all of the trigger points in the human body.1 Originally called “wet needling”, which used a hypodermic needle to insert a medication or substance into the body, dry needling took on a more physical approach to loosen shortened muscles through the newly discovered trigger points.2 Since this discovery, the concept of dry needling has continued to advance and improve the lives of patients. 

This form of treatment targets myofascial trigger points and muscular and connective tissues through the use of a thin, filiform needle. Myofascial trigger points are where there is a band of skeletal muscle among other larger groups of muscles.3 When touched, myofascial trigger points are tender and can cause other spots of the body to feel pain due to the location of the trigger point.1 Dry needling helps patients by releasing pain in the trigger point area, improving the patient's’ range of motion and overall comfort. When applying the needles to the trigger points, the immune system, nervous system, vascular system, and other parts of the body are affected. This gives a patient in physical therapy better results than the standard hands-on soft tissue treatment.3 

A recent study published in 2014 by Physical Therapy focuses on how trigger point dry needling affects plantar heel pain. In “Effectiveness of Trigger Point Dry Needling for Plantar Heel Pain: A Randomized Controlled Trial,” 84 patients were monitored, each with plantar heel pain that had lasted for at least one month prior to the study. Patients received either real trigger point dry needling or sham trigger point dry needling once a week for six weeks. At the end of the study, measurements were taken on the levels of first-step pain and foot pain. Results showed that dry needling had a significant, positive effect in comparison to the effects of sham dry needling. Unfortunately, there is no knowledge of the long-lasting effects of dry needling. These results led to the conclusion that while dry needling is effective for plantar heel pain, more research should be done to discover long-term effects. In the future, other studies can be done where the treatment is over a more extended period of time and long term effects are recorded in other areas of the musculoskeletal system.  

The information provided is intended for factual purposes only, not to suggest or provide medical advice to you, the reader. Consult a medical professional with further questions or concerns regarding the information listed.



(1) Frank Gargano. History of Integrative Dry Needling. Integrative Dry Needling Institute. 2017; September 20, 2017;

(2) Dr. Spencer, J. Dry Needling Is The Next Big Thing In Physical Therapy. Dr. John Rusin - Exercise Science & Injury Prevention.

(3) Dry Needling by a Physical Therapist: What You Should Know. American Physical Therapy Association. 2017;

(4) Cotchett MP, Munteanu SE, Landorf KB. Effectiveness of trigger point dry needling for plantar heel pain: a randomized controlled trial. Physical Therapy. 2014;94: 1083-1094.


About the Author





Carina Dillon is  a member of the class of 2021 at Franklin Pierce University majoring in Health Sciences. After four years at Franklin Pierce, she plans on attending graduate school to receive her Doctorate of Physical Therapy. Her hometown is Rutland, Massachusetts.


Is Medicine the Only Option for Asthma?

by Emily James

February 6, 2018

Imagine having to use an inhaler every time before playing a sport or after walking up a couple flights of stairs to stop yourself from wheezing like a dying walrus. There are hundreds of millions of people who deal with this every day [1]. This prevalent ailment is known as asthma, a chronic inflammatory disease of the respiratory system [1]. Wheezing is the primary symptom of this recurrent disease, caused by the inflammation and thickening of the bronchial tube walls. The bronchial tubes are the two airways that deliver air to the lungs [1]. When these airways are inflamed, air has difficulty passing through them, resulting in wheezing and shortness of breath. The inflammation can be caused by many triggers such as physical activity, allergies, climate changes, strong emotional responses, and environmental pollutants. In order to prevent the onset of asthma symptoms or an asthma attack, asthmatics can be prescribed a variety of medications. Typically, an asthmatic will be given a “quick-relief” medication, but if they play a sport or find that their asthma is easily triggered, they may also be prescribed a “long-term control” medication. However, sometimes these medications do not completely resolve symptoms, leading people to seek other treatments besides prescription drugs.

Physiotherapy is a form of alternative medicine that focuses on movement and involves the use of exercise and manual therapy to help people with illnesses, injuries, and disabilities. It has proven to be effective in treating chronic respiratory diseases such as asthma. A study performed by P. Bergqvis and O. Löwhagen tested the Lotorp method on patients who had been diagnosed with asthma and prescribed medication to manage their symptoms. The method consists of massaging the muscles of the chest as well as teaching the patients proper breathing techniques [2]. Improper breathing can include shallow and swift breaths, which is common in asthmatics due to restricted airways. The goal of this treatment is to address the shallow breathing in addition to reducing inflammation [2]. The results of the study showed that the physiotherapy treatment increased the volume of air the patients were inhaling and exhaling [2]. The maximum point to which each patient’s chest could expand during respiration was also measured before and after the physiotherapy treatments [2]. These measurements increased over the course of the six weeks during which the study took place [2]. Wheezing, shortness of breath, and other asthma symptoms were better managed by the patients because of these changes that the treatments made [2].

When you think of asthma, most of the time you think of the inhalers that one of your teammates had to use right before the big game. You don’t always think of the possible alternative medicine practices that may be out there that could benefit your health in the long run.


The information provided is intended for factual purposes only, not to suggest or provide medical advice to you, the reader. Consult a medical professional with further questions or concerns regarding the information listed.



(1) Asthma. Physiopedia. Mackey C, Hunter C, Dokhnan S, Lowe R, Thomas E. (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.. Accessed September 15, 2017.

(2) Löwhagen O, Bergqvist P. Physiotherapy in asthma using the new Lotorp method. Complementary Therapies In Clinical Practice [serial online]. November 2014;20(4):276-279. Available from: MEDLINE Complete, Ipswich, MA. Accessed September 25, 2017.


About the Author




Emily James is a class of 2021 honors student at Franklin Pierce University with a major in Health Sciences. She plans to pursue her Doctorate of Physical Therapy through the graduate program at Franklin Pierce University. Emily is a resident of Preston, Connecticut and a graduate of Norwich Free Academy in Norwich, Connecticut.

Acupuncture: A new Edition to Concussion Treatments


February 3, 2018


By Kathryn Cunningham



When it comes to concussion symptoms such as headaches, conventional treatments like therapies and medications are not always successful. Recently, acupuncture has been a growing treatment option for chronic pain, specifically headaches and migraines. Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese method of medicine which stimulates certain points on the human body by inserting thin needles through the skin. Researchers are currently looking into how acupuncture can help when it comes to treating concussions (1).



A case study done by Lin and Tung focused on the effects of the traditional Chinese technique on pediatric sports-induced concussions. It included an eight-year-old male hockey player, a fifteen-year-old female field hockey and lacrosse player, and an eighteen-year-old female soccer player. Symptoms suffered by these patients included significant headaches, dizziness, fatigue, balance problems, light sensitivity, visual tracking, sleep disturbance and concentration difficulties. The eight-year-old boy reported an initial pain score of seven out of ten, and was receiving physical therapy and medications prior to receiving acupuncture. The fifteen-year-old female complained of a consistent daily headache that she rated a five or six out of ten. The eighteen-year-old female complained of a persistent headache that she rated a five to seven out of ten all day, to the point where she could no longer participate in soccer. Prior to acupuncture she had tried almost every available therapy and no treatment had worked (2).  



The eight-year-old hockey player received six treatments that completely resolved his headaches. His neurological exam returned to normal and he no longer used any medications. The fifteen-year-old female received six treatments of acupuncture as well; her headaches decreased from a six out of ten to a three out of ten. Her mood improved greatly, while also noticing overall improvement in her daily life. Lastly, the eighteen-year-old female received twelve treatments. By her final treatment, her headaches were down to a two out of ten, and significantly decreased in frequency. She no longer complained of forgetfulness and was able to tolerate both light and screens. Her dizziness, noise sensitivity, and frustration were resolved as well (2).



Overall, the study showed success in treatment by reducing their symptoms and signs of their concussions (2). Lin and Tung were able to determine that acupuncture may have therapeutic benefits for patients when integrated into conventional treatments for pediatric sports-induced concussions. Future studies should be conducted for concussion treatment to tests the effect of conventional treatments alongside acupuncture to see if it requires a multidisciplinary approach.





1) “Acupuncture: In Depth.” National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 21 Feb. 2017, Accessed 30 Apr. 2018.

2) Lin, Katerina, and Cynthia Tung. “Acupuncture for Recovery from Pediatric Sport-Related Concussion.” Medical Acupuncture, vol. 28, no. 4, 1 Aug. 2016, pp. 217–222., doi:10.1089/acu.2016.1181

About the Author


Kathryn Cunningham is a sophomore majoring in Health Sciences with a minor in Psychology and Pubic Health and working towards her Women in Leadership Certificate. On campus she is the Assistant Manager of the Information Desk, Vice President of Student Government Association, a member of the honors program, health sciences club, and hope happens here. Back home in Rhode Island she is a dedicated Special Olympics Coach, coaching track and field, swim, golf, bowling, and basketball.

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