Tag Archives: therapist

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.


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.”


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.”


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.”


What happens when a child ages out of foster care?

February 16, 2014 by

Being a child in the foster care system can be lonely and confusing. Just ask Tabitha. Shuffled from one home to another, one town to another—by the time she was in high school, she was an entire year behind in her studies. She lost track of the number of foster homes and families that she left behind. It wasn’t until she was 17—nearly out of the system—that she became part of a family.

While foster care is not ideal, there are a few people who provide some stability and support while you are part of the “system.” Your caseworker. Maybe your therapist. But once you turn 19, those connections are usually lost. There may not be one single, caring adult who asks if you are doing okay. If you have enough to eat or just need a little help. If you have a place to stay or a way to get to work—if you even have a job. Or a way to go to college.

Just one caring person can make all the difference for a young adult who ages out of foster care. On their own, many are simply lost. Without connections, the statistics are grim for these older teens and young adults. Within two years, half are essentially homeless. They may be couch-surfing just to have a warm place to sleep. They have no network to find a job. Few can afford a car or even know how to drive, since the State of Nebraska doesn’t take on the liability of state wards learning those skills. They are easy targets for pimps and human traffickers. Many become pregnant.

Now, Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska (LFS) has adopted the national “Family Finding” model. This model recognizes the urgency of helping these young people establish meaningful, supportive, permanent relationships with loving adults—simply as a matter of safety, to start.

LFS is currently the only Nebraska agency providing these types of permanency services to 19-26 year-olds previously in foster care. In July 2013, LFS’ Permanent Connections program began working to build bridges for young adults to biological family members, former foster parents, siblings, former case workers, or group home staff. Most recently, LFS began expanding this support to young adults in Fremont and surrounding areas.

The program starts by identifying 40 people who have somehow been involved in the life of the young person. From this group, a smaller team is chosen. This team includes those willing to make a long-term commitment to this young adult and be an active, stable part of their lives. It’s not as formal as adoption; more like a vow to be a friend.

Many youth who grow up in foster care or spend significant time in foster homes transition into adulthood alone. They lose contact with all the people in their lives who were once in a caring role. Permanent Connections helps these youth create ties with caring and supportive adults who can give them some stability and support.