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Published on May 13, 2019

Mark Sollien and Elizabeth "Libby" Abbas, DO

Osteopathic care relieves debilitating shoulder injury

Decorah, Iowa, resident Mark Sollien started working with Elizabeth "Libby" Abbas, DO, at Gundersen Decorah Clinic after a devastating car crash in November.

As a Family Medicine physician certified by the Osteopathic Board of Family Physicians, Dr. Abbas was able to provide the kind of comprehensive follow-up care Mark needed for 14 broken ribs and a fractured back and neck—all close to home.

"There was a lot of impact in the crash," Mark says. "Dr. Abbas was able to take away so much of the pain."

In addition to comprehensive medical education, osteopathic physicians receive extra training in osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT), a handson technique used to optimize the body's ability to heal. OMT is especially beneficial for patients who have experienced physical trauma.

Impressed with the immense relief he felt after OMT, Mark told Dr. Abbas about a shoulder injury that had been limiting him for years. The discomfort had gotten so bad Mark thought he'd soon need rotator cuff surgery. He could barely lift his arm. Any movement made him wince.

Dr. Abbas used an osteopathic technique called Fascial Distortion Model (FDM) on Mark's shoulder, the same method used to relieve his back pain after the crash. FDM targets connective tissue, such as ligaments, tendons and fascia. Injuries can cause rips or holes in this connective tissue. FDM restores the connective tissue and improves conditions like pulled muscles, sprains and strains.

"FDM is helpful for both diagnosis and treatment of many common musculoskeletal conditions," Dr. Abbas says. "It is incredibly effective. Because we're treating deep tissue, it can be uncomfortable for a short amount of time during treatment, but patients usually feel better immediately."

Patients of all ages have found relief working with Dr. Abbas. While all of them are unique, Dr. Abbas has one goal: "The structure of a body is related to the function of the body," she says. "I set bodies up to better be able to heal themselves."

For example, if a newborn is having difficulty breastfeeding, Dr. Abbas may gently manipulate the back of the head to target the nerves that allow a baby to latch. This procedure realigns the musculoskeletal structure and nervous system so the baby can more easily breastfeed.

Whether an infant, a retiree or someone in between, a patient's specific condition determines the most appropriate treatment technique for their needs. In Mark's case, FDM has been a light on his continuing road to rehabilitation.

"I'm still recovering," Mark says. "I can't do everything I used to yet, but the procedure has been helping so much."

Dr. Abbas is thankful to be able to offer her patients, like Mark, the healing benefits of osteopathic care for both acute and chronic pain in Decorah and West Union at Gundersen Palmer Lutheran.

"There is a time and place for medication and surgery but being able to add another layer of care to Family Medicine and help somebody immediately with my hands is immensely gratifying," Dr. Abbas says. "I'm improving their quality of life, which improves their overall health. That's the goal of Family Medicine."

According to Mark, it's a goal Dr. Abbas has surpassed in his care.

"After more than eight years of pain, I am so grateful," Mark says. "I told Dr. Abbas, 'I bet you walk on water, too.'"

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Abbas:

Love + Medicine

Every day, Gundersen Health System staff deliver great medicine plus a little something extra—we call it Love + Medicine.

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