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Needles bring back runner's stride

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During the summer of 2012, Sharon Harmon’s IT band pain had worsened to the point, not only was running impossible, ascending the stairs to her second-floor office caused terrible knee pain. Manager of internal communications for Novant Health’s greater Charlotte market, Sharon tried ice, elevation, foam rolling, yoga and massage to alleviate the pain, but nothing worked. With 10 marathons and countless other races under her belt, Sharon was desperate to find a solution that would allow her to run again.

Her sports medicine physician, Keith Anderson, MD, with Novant Health Cotswold Family Medicine, confirmed the trouble was with her IT band. He referred her to Novant Health Rehabilitation Services for treatment. After performing a thorough evaluation, Michael Rosenberg, manager of Novant Health Rehabilitation Services in Charlotte, thought Sharon may be a candidate for dry needling and referred her to Erin Ball, manager of rehab services at Novant Health Huntersville Medical Center.

Last year, Erin and Amy Scala of Novant Health Lakeside Family Physicians Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine became the first physical therapists in the Charlotte area to offer this treatment option for physical therapy patients. Other Novant Health locations will add dry needling therapy soon. Erin took it upon herself to complete the costly and time-intensive training to learn dry needing as another treatment option for her patients. During treatment, a very small (acupuncture-type) needle is inserted in the muscle to eliminate trigger points.

After the first dry needling session, Sharon noticed an increase in mobility and a decrease in knee pain. She completed a total of four sessions, and was healed in time for the fall race season.

In her first race after rehabilitation, she placed first in her age group in the hilly Rambling Rose half-marathon in Charlotte. She continues to run pain-free and is looking forward to the fall race season, and is already registered for several races.

“I got to a point where I thought I would have to completely resign from not only competitive racing, but running altogether,” said Sharon. “Now I am actually hoping to set new personal bests. I owe my recovery to my clinical team: Erin, Michael and Dr. Anderson. I am grateful.”

Erin also is a model leader at Novant Health Huntersville Medical Center. She was named leader of the year during Healthcare Week in 2013. Last year, her “tablets for treatments” program, which uses iPads for patient education, was recognized by the Charlotte Business Journal. And recently she was part of a team that began offering laser treatments for cancer survivors needing lymphedema therapy.

Thank you, Erin, for your commitment to finding leading-edge treatment options for our patients.