November 20, 2009
Gentle therapy helps artist get back to sculpting birds
By Susan Christensen
Health and Research News
Ceramic artist Bebe Wolfe is famous for her birds.
The fanciful creations draw flocks of collectors to her Jackson studio each year, and Wolfe stays busy meeting demand.
So when nagging neck pain threatened her productivity, Wolfe knew she needed help. “It really was interfering with my work and my pleasure in life,” she said. “It’s hard to be happy when you’ve got a big pain in the neck.”
Wolfe tried over-the-counter medications, prescription muscle relaxers, massage therapy and even acupuncture. But it was a combination of osteopathic manipulation and physical therapy that ultimately eased her pain.
“It was really kind of magical,” she said. “None of it was invasive. And it gave me relief.”
The source of Wolfe’s misery was no mystery to Dr. Bruce Hirshman, a physician at Methodist Pain Management in Flowood, a division of Methodist Rehabilitation Center. “He told me he treats a lot of artists,” Wolfe said. “It’s an occupational hazard to focus on small objects all day.”
As a board certified anesthesiologist, Hirshman often treats painful conditions with interventional techniques such as steroid injections and nerve blocks. But he believed Wolfe would be better served by his hands-on skills as a doctor of osteopathy.
“Osteopaths look for asymmetries in the body and areas of muscle spasms or tissue texture abnormalities,” Dr. Hirshman explained. “We use our hands to improve areas of pain and spasm by correcting structural abnormalities, improving blood flow and facilitating venous and lymphatic drainage. I just feel stuff and I fix it.
“Unlike other forms of manipulation, osteopathic manipulation is very gentle. You engage the patient’s own musculature to improve structural misalignments.”
Wolfe said she felt better “the first time Dr. Hirshman put his hands on me.” And she continued to improve at Methodist Outpatient Rehabilitation, where her treatment included traditional physical therapy combined with hands-on craniosacral therapy.
“Craniosacral therapy is a manual technique that seems to work well for people with headaches or neck pain,” said physical therapist Charlotte Stark. “Ms. Wolfe was able to see relief within two visits.”
Wolfe said she appreciated the team approach at Methodist Rehab, and the convenience of being to able to take advantage of a wide variety of therapies at MRC’s Flowood campus.
Fans of her work have reason to be grateful, as well. The timely treatments got Wolfe back to her sculpting table. Now she’s happily obsessing over the just-right tilt of an upturned beak or the peaceful profile of a Christmas dove.
“I’ve been a bird lover since I was 14,” she said. “And I like to have a feeling of life in my birds.”
Jackson artist Bebe Wolfe is back to sculpting her sought-after birds now that she no longer suffers from chronic neck pain. Wolfe says she benefited from the team approach at Methodist Pain Management in Flowood.