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Joleen Wrightsman

October, 2020


Pain makes even the smallest activities seem unbearable. Just ask Joleen Wrightsman of Beatrice, who was finding that using her arm to reach for anything or to do something as simple as vacuuming was just too painful to endure any longer.


For Joleen, the journey to a life with less pain began about a year and a half ago. She had had neck pain for a long time – bad posture at her desk – she said. But when she began to notice pain and tingling down the length of her arm and numbness in her fingers she knew she needed to do something about it. Her goal was to avoid surgery if at all possible.


Joleen just happens to work at the hospital’s Rehabilitation Services Department and with a doctor’s referral, Physical Therapist Justin Schardt suggested that the McKenzie Method may be able to find the root of that tingling and numbness and then they could choose the right exercises to correct it. And it worked.


The McKenzie Method is a specialized assessment that allows a therapist to find the source of pain and work with the patient to create an exercise plan that promotes the right types of movement to relieve that pain.


But that was just the beginning.


With a commitment to the exercises recommended by the therapist, the tingling and numbness disappeared down her arm.  Unfortunately, some residual pain remained due to a muscle knot above her right shoulder blade. This time, dry needling treatments resolved the issue.


With dry needling, a therapist inserts tiny needles into a specific area of the body to relax the muscles


“For me, it was like a tight muscle cramp for just a moment,” Joleen said. “When a session was over, I just felt so relaxed.”


Unfortunately, as the therapist unraveled the different types of pain Joleen had been experiencing, a third and final pain just wouldn’t go away, and her therapist advised her to consider an MRI. The orthopedic surgeon then went in to do a scope and to shave down bone spurs found on the MRI, only to find and repair two rotator cuff tears in her shoulder as well.


During general physical therapy following the surgery, Schardt recommended Graston therapy to break up scar tissue and regain more range of motion. The Graston Technique is the use of flat-edged blades moved over the skin to break up and massage the scar tissue for faster and more complete healing.


Joleen says she is feeling better than ever, and now knows that keeping the pain away requires a commitment to doing the recommended exercises and movements.


“Having trust in your therapist is so important,” Joleen said. “When the therapist asks you to do something when you know it’s going to hurt, you have to trust that they know what they are doing. Seeing the same therapist every time you come in and building that relationship can make a difference in how beneficial therapy can be.”


She says her experience has also given her a new empathy for the patients she sees coming into Rehab for services.


“The therapists have so much knowledge about how to retrain the body to behave in certain ways to be healthy,” she said. “It’s all just pretty amazing what they can do for you.” 


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