I asked him “How do I do what you do, but not go to school for 10 years?... I want to needle”
He said “Become a Physiotherapist"
In 2013, I worked as a Clinician assistant for CHANGEpain clinic as part of my Co-op program when I was finishing my Bachelor in Kinesiology degree. At the time, it was a start-up clinic, so I did just about EVERYTHING. I built the clinic chairs, I wrote the first draft of the clinic manual, I helped develop group medical visits, taught movement classes, but my primary job over the 8 months was typing out the clinician’s notes while they were in the appointment.
This is where I was introduced to myoActivation Trigger Point Injections developed by Dr. Greg Siren. Greg along with the other clinicians were primarily General Practitioners, but what they did was nothing like what happens in your average family doctor’s office. They performed Trigger Point injections with 0.9% Sodium Chloride solution (aka low concentration salt water). They performed single smooth insertions followed by immediate withdrawal of the needle, so only micro- injections of the saline solutions occurred.
This clinic was also the home of Dr. Allan Lam. Dr. Lam learned and practiced Intramuscular stimulation under the mentorship of Dr. Gunn, the founder of IMS.
This was the place I learned about dry needling.
Believe it or not, I was terrified of needles, the sight of needles made me nauseous. After my first three days working at the clinic, and over 60 appointments later, I got over my phobia and started tuning in to the miraculous transformations happening within these treatment rooms.
What seemed like just “pinpricks” was yielding results almost instantaneously.
In 15 minute appointments to be exact.
Lower back pain- Reduced
Neck Range of motion- Improved
Winged Scapula- Corrected
Hip tightness- Released
And eventually chronic pain- Resolved
This was not the “Voo Doo” part:
Over the course of the 8 months I also witnessed patients say that Trigger Point injections helped reduce their sensitivity to light and sound, regulate their female menstruation cycle, improve digestion, augment their quality of sleep.
Dr. Siren was given the nickname “the wizard” by all of us Co-op students.
He assessed hip adductor length for shoulder pain, tested ankle stability for neck pain.
He chased knee pain back to a scar on the patient’s chin from a fall 20 years ago.
He identified movement compensations and corrected them within seconds.
There were hundreds of jaw-dropping moments over those 8 months.
One day while working with one of the clinicians Dr. Dhanoa I asked him:
“How do I do what you do, but not go to school for 10 years… I want to needle”
He said “Become a Physiotherapist”
He told me that I was already going to have a Bachelors Degree in Kinesiology, and if I completed my Masters in Physiotherapy, I could take a dry needling course. At the time I didn’t know that Physiotherapists could do dry needling, because the only clinicians I ever witnessed doing dry needling was Dr. Lam and Dr. Gunn.
I graduated with my Kinesiology degree, and after a few hurdles, I went back to school.
Finally, in June of 2019 I earned my needles.
When my patient’s ask me why I am a physiotherapist I often laugh and say “this is why” as I poke them with needles. I then tell them this story.
Many patients tell me that they see my eyes light up when I grab a needle. It is because I know its therapeutic value in my Physiotherapy practice. But also, behind each treatment is passion that has been brewing since 2013 ( which is a quarter of my life!) Just under a decade ago, this piece of my vision of The Physique Physio was born.
So, next time I’m poking the side of your leg for your neck pain- I am just channelling my inner “Greg”.