Tag Archives: back

Perspectives on Pain

July 25, 2014 by and

Chronic headaches can be withering. They can also lead a person down the path to dependence on opiate-based pain meds. There are better ways to treat the pain. Here are three solutions—from three very different perspectives—on how to find relief.

Acupuncture

Tereshel Johnson believes her acupuncture sessions work to relief headaches. But, as a woman who has worked and studied in the American healthcare world, she is sometimes skeptical about many of the claims made by other acupuncturists.

“There is so much that is unknown about it—it’s hard for Western medicine to get a grip on the Eastern mind,” says Johnson, owner of both Omaha Headache and Migraine Clinic and co-owner of Green Chiropractic in Omaha. “What we do know from studies: Acupuncture can work to relieve some problems. It definitely has its place.”

For those with chronic headaches, the first step is an extensive assessment. The primary goal: To make sure that there’s not some major medical issue that first needs addressing. “Acupuncture isn’t for muscular-skeletal problems—that kind of thing,” she says.

But acupuncture can be very successful releasing stressed muscles or reducing inflammation, she says.

“Sometimes Western medicine isn’t the answer for pain,” she says. “There is a place for acupuncture. We may not know how, but it has helped countless people through the ages.”

Chiropractic

At her chiropractic clinic, Johnson also begins with an extensive evaluation. She first determines if there are major structural problems—or some other major health problem—that should be handled by medical doctors and surgeons. If the patient is healthy outside of some spine misalignment, she will begin a chiropractic regimen.

Headaches, she says, can come from problems in both the thoracic and lumbar sections of the spine. There is often a nerve being pinched or too little, or too much, movement between certain vertebrae. The key for those suffering headaches: Make sure you seek a cure to the underlying problem, not just some pills to numb the pain.

“If you medicate, the dysfunction and structural problems are still there,” she says. “And they are not going to get better by being masked. You need to go to the source of the pain to get any long-term relief.”

Massage

Haley Martin can toss around some awfully impressive Latin terminology for the muscles in your back and neck. The point is, though: As a licensed massage therapist, you’ve got to know the intricacies of the human body to know exactly where to focus massage therapy.

For those with chronic headaches, Martin says, the primary culprits are usually the three scalene muscles, the scalenus anterior, scalenus medius, and scalenus posterior. Whiplash is a common cause of damage and inflation in those muscles. Bad posture at work causes problems, especially if you’re slouched over a computer all day.

“Anatomically, people get their shoulders rounded, their chest muscles pulled together—everything pushed and pulled from where it should be naturally,” says Martin, who works for Downtown Omaha Massage. “Whatever the cause, the nerve bundle that leads to your upper extremities gets inflamed. So we have to go release that area with massage.”

And yes, the worse the ball of angry muscles and nerves, the rougher the job might be to get relief.

“Honestly, things can get a little intense,” she says. “The longer you’ve had the problem, the longer it can take to get to the solution. If things get intense, we start talking a lot about those deep breathing exercises.”

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Young Hero:
 Leyna Hightshoe

November 16, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

“No ten-year-old girl wants to have to wear a neck brace,” says Carla Podraza, whose daughter, Leyna Hightshoe, 12, was diagnosed with scoliosis at age 10.

Leyna, now a student at Norris Middle School in the Omaha Public Schools district, had an s-shaped spine (called double lateral curve) that made it hard for her to breathe. “When she was diagnosed, it was already severe enough that bracing couldn’t resolve the problem,” Podraza says. “But she was so young to have to undergo such a major surgery.”

Within a year of diagnosis, Leyna’s spine got worse. “The top was measured at 83 degrees while the bottom curve was around 79. A brace is recommended around 20-29 degrees, and surgery is considered to correct curvatures over 45 degrees,” explains Podraza.

But Podraza found an extremely skilled orthopedic surgeon at Shriners Hospital in Minneapolis, Minn., who seemed to be the right fit for Leyna’s case. “He took such care in considering all the details…nothing I told him seemed irrelevant. His staff was available to us all the time, answering questions, lending support.”

Podraza was told that Leyna’s condition needed to be addressed immediately. Unfortunately, other issues kept appearing. For example, the doctors discovered that Leyna also had a bleeding disorder called von Willebrand Disease, which affected her blood’s ability to clot. “That had to be taken into consideration and planned for before the surgery could be scheduled,” adds Podraza. “Because of all the impediments, plus trying to figure out how to pay for a surgery of this magnitude…our nerves were stretched pretty thin,” she says.

Despite everything, Leyna was brave. She decorated her neck brace with rhinestones and puffy paint. She accepted all of the frightening information from her doctors calmly—from the descriptions of how her muscles would be peeled away to expose the spine during surgery to the “and in worst case, death” disclaimers. And she dealt with the incredible pain after her surgery.

“She pushed herself to get through it, and to do whatever the doctors said was necessary,” Podraza says. “For her to sit up within a day of the surgery seemed impossible, and to walk the next day was even more unbelievable.”

Chromium rods attached with two-dozen screws now support Leyna’s spine. Since the surgery, it has corrected her curves to 23 and 16 degrees, respectively. “Her breathing is so much better,” Podraza adds, “and her back is so much straighter than it was.”

Podraza is glad to have her daughter looking and feeling better, but what still amazes her is how Leyna was able to handle everything with grace and courage.

“Everyone has it in them to be strong when they need to be, but sometimes they don’t know that. [Leyna] was able to get past fear, doubt, and self-pity to figure out how to cope with the situation.

“She found it in herself though to find a way to get through each of those moments that were so emotionally tough…It showed me a new side of her—this fiercely strong person—[and] impressed me when I watched her push through the toughest parts, physically and mentally.”

Mark Hasebroock

August 26, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Despite Mark Hasebroock’s success as an entrepreneur—he was a co-founder of prosperous e-commerce businesses Hayneedle and GiftCertificates.com, in addition to having experience as a small business owner and working in investment and commercial banking—he says he still wishes he’d had less time-consuming, back-and-forth discussion and more expedient, hands-on guidance when he was on the launching pad.

“We got strung along so many times by different investors who just took forever to get to a conclusion. Having been on the other side of the desk starting companies of my own, it was frustrating looking first for the capital, and second: ‘Can anybody help me? How can I get from here to here? Where is this resource? If you were in my shoes, what would you do?’ type of stuff,” Hasebroock says. “At some point I thought, ‘There’s just got to be a better way to do it, and I want to someday start a fund of my own—and do it my way, and do it right.’”

In 2011, Hasebroock did just that, kicking off Dundee Venture Capital (DVC) with an objective to be responsive to, decisive with, and supportive of entrepreneurs, he explains. “When we get an inquiry, we should review it and either we get back to you and say it’s a fit, or we say, ‘It’s not a fit and here’s who you should talk to.’ And let’s do that in a 24- to 48-hour period. The standard is two to four weeks.”

With his team of Michael Wetta, Nick Engelbart, and Andrea Sandel, plus two interns (“They’re all rock stars; I’m notoriously bad at giving direction, so they have to be self-starters.”), DVC operates out of offices in the Mastercraft Building on North 13th Street on the edge of downtown. The Dundee in the company’s name, and in the logo based on a pre-1915 annexation postal stamp, reflects the company’s first offices, as well as Hasebroock’s home neighborhood.

“We started in Warren Buffett’s grandfather’s grocery store—that’s where Dundee Bank is today—and I was an investor in Dundee Bank, so it all kind of tied in together with some of the history with where capitalism sort of started in Omaha and the heart of Dundee,” Hasebroock explains.

“…when somebody comes in with ‘here’s my business, here’s what I’m doing, here’s the problem, here’s my solution, and here’s why my team’s going to win’…we usually know within the first five minutes if this is someone we’re going to back.”

He also likes both the Omaha and Nebraska associations with the Dundee name. Hasebroock grew up in Omaha (he was once a Peony Park lifeguard), graduating from Westside High School, and earning his undergraduate degree at University of Nebraska-Lincoln and his MBA from Creighton University. He and his wife, Jane, who met in their youth and married in 1984, chose to raise their four sons and four daughters in their shared hometown. “No twins and, yes, the same spouse,” Hasebroock likes to say, adding that the family calls the older four the “Varsity” team and the younger half, the “JV.” The collective teammates are now ages 11 to 27 and have kept the family involved in numerous school and community-related sports, clubs, and activities for years. And Hasebroock himself plays hockey with a local adult league, the BPHL (Beer-and-Pretzel Hockey League) on Team Gold, stressing their three-time defending champion status.

“I haven’t really strayed too far,” he says. And his ties to the Heartland continue through his investments. With a preference for Midwest-based endeavors, DVC invests anywhere from $50,000 to a half-million dollars in growth companies that focus on e-commerce and web services.

“The next criteria is super-passionate, driven founders, so when somebody comes in with ‘here’s my business, here’s what I’m doing, here’s the problem, here’s my solution, and here’s why my team’s going to win’…we usually know within the first five minutes if this is someone we’re going to back,” Hasebroock says.

DVC is already seeing its investees take off and even soar under the guidance of Hasebroock and his team. Hasebroock says it was through mentor Mike McCarthy (founding partner of McCarthy Capital) that he saw firsthand how the simple principle of “treat people like you want to be treated” breeds success, and he emulates that culture of respect at DVC. Plus, there’s a multigenerational—and even simpler—principle Hasebroock follows: “Like my grandfather used to say, there’s four secrets to success: W. O. R. K.”

“It’s empathetic because we understand. And yet there are demands on the capital. We certainly want it back. We’d like more than we put in.  But we also know that these founders are being pulled in two hundred different directions. And to the degree that we can help keep them on the rails a little bit and not just chase that next great shiny penny idea; that’s what we want to do.”

Hasebroock, who’s also now involved with a new Omaha-based accelerator for technology startups called Straight Shot, sees nothing but growth ahead for DVC.

“I think the next step is another fund that invests in startups. I don’t think the supply is going to slow down,” he says. “We’re continually seeing really creative ideas out of a lot of markets.”

5-Minute Workout: Superman

July 22, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Most people have unbalanced chain muscles, focusing too much on the anterior (front) chain and less on the posterior (back) chain. This disproportion creates uneven strength, which causes poor posture, as well as upper and lower back pain. The “Superman” is a great exercise to emphasize and strengthen the posterior chain muscles, thereby evening out this unbalance.

Setup & Starting Position

  1. Lay prone (face down) with your arms in front of you.

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Exercise

  1. Bring the shoulder blades together and down while tightening the lower back and gluteal muscles.
  2. Lift arms and legs, holding the upper and lower body off the ground. (Your weight should rest comfortably on your lower abdominals and pelvis.)
  3. Hold for a count of 2 and repeat for 10-15 reps.

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Jeffrey L. Cumro, DC, is a certified personal trainer and yoga instructor with Better Life Chiropractic and Wellness, LLC. For more information, visit betterlifeNE.com.