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Physical and occupational therapy

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Back and neck pain

Back aches and back pain may occur for a variety of reasons. Most people experience back pain as a result of sprains/strains, injuries, lifting improperly or sitting for prolonged periods. While there are a lot of options available to treat back pain, many of these only address the symptoms and don't target the actual cause of your pain. Our physical therapists find the cause of your back pain, which may include muscle weakness, poor movement and poor spinal coordination.

Neck pain is also very common and can generate pain or limited mobility in the shoulder, arm or hand. Headaches and even migraines are often triggered by an underlying neck problem. Patients may complain of aches or tenderness in the neck, and sometimes shooting, sharp pains in nearby areas. Often, the primary problems causing your neck pain are tightened muscles and poor posture from daily stress, sitting at computers and inactivity.

During your evaluation, our physical or occupational therapists will discuss your history; examine your spine; and evaluate your movement, strength, walking and coordination. This helps pinpoint the cause of your back or neck pain. We then work closely with you to design a treatment plan that best suits your needs and offers the quickest relief from pain and return to function.

Some of the common conditions we treat:

  • Burners/stingers.
  • Cervical torticollis.
  • Radiculopathy (pinched nerve).
  • Spondylosis.
  • Stenosis, myelopathy and radiculopathy.
  • Stiff neck.
  • Whiplash and whiplash associated disorder.
  • Strains.
  • Sprains.

Foot and ankle pain

After injuries or with age, ligaments and other structures in the foot can change, resulting in improper or aggravated forces on the foot and ankle. Ill-fitting shoes and residual effects from prior injuries can cause pain, poor stability, lack of mobility or lack of strength in the stabilizing muscles. The foot and ankle can even affect the functioning of your knee, hip, back and even posture.

Our expert physical therapists have years of training in evaluating the movement of the foot, ankle and legs. We perform an analysis of your foot and ankle joints as well as the muscles in your legs. Furthermore, our physical therapists analyze your walking and running patterns to determine the root cause of your foot pain or ankle pain so it can be treated quickly and effectively.

Our providers can help relieve your pain quickly and restore your normal walking/running activities.

Some of the common conditions we treat:

  • Post-surgical foot and ankle pain.
  • Ankle sprains.
  • Foot pain.
  • Ankle pain.
  • Collapsed arches.
  • Achilles tendonitis.
  • Plantar fasciitis.
  • Arthritis.
  • Sports injuries.
  • Difficulty walking.
  • Balance problems.

Shoulder pain

The shoulder is the most complicated joint in the body and has to move through an incredible range of motion while maintaining strength and support. Shoulder pain can occur for a variety of reasons, but is typically from poor posture, weak rotator cuff muscles or injury.

Our expert physical and occupational therapists have years of specialized training in movement analysis to determine where your discomfort is originating. We put together a comprehensive treatment plan that will quickly relieve your pain and return your shoulder's full range of motion. The goal is to get you back to normal activities, as pain-free and as quickly as possible. Furthermore, our physical therapists educate you on posture techniques and simple exercises you can do to maintain your shoulder health.

Our providers have years of experience helping patients fully recover from shoulder pain. If you have had shoulder surgery, count us to work with you and your physician to achieve the best outcomes.

Some of the common conditions we treat:

  • Adhesive capsulitis (frozen shoulder).
  • Dislocated shoulder.
  • Separated shoulder.
  • Shoulder instability.
  • SLAP tears.
  • Tendinitis and bursitis.

Hip and knee pain

Hip pain

When you walk, run and move, your hip and knee work together to allow you to move fluidly and accurately. When one of these joints or associated muscle groups are not working properly, pain can occur in different parts of the leg. Hip pain can leave you with very limited movement and make walking painful. This pain may radiate to the groin, glutes or thigh.

Our expert physical therapists understand the complexities of hip movement and function and will evaluate your walking, movement, range of motion, strength and coordination. Our evaluations enable us to pinpoint the source of your pain and to develop a series of manual therapies and exercises to reduce your pain and restore normal function.

Some of the common conditions we treat:

  • Strains.
  • Sprains.
  • Bursitis.
  • Dislocations.
  • Fractures.
  • Arthritis.

Knee pain

Many people experience knee pain as a result of knee arthritis or sports injuries. Our skilled physical therapists work closely with you to evaluate the mechanics of your knees and their relationship to your physical condition and performance. Limitations in movement and strength can dramatically affect the way your knee functions, causing increased pressure and pain. Physical therapy restores the normal movement, strength and coordination and can help you quickly relieve pain and get back to normal activities.

We help patients of all ages prevent or recover from knee surgery and also prevent surgery if possible. If you had knee surgery, including total knee replacement, our physical therapy program will guide you through recovery and will get you back to peak performance quickly.

Some of the common conditions we treat:

  • ACL injury.
  • Hyperextended knee.
  • Osteochondritis dissecans (OCD).
  • Patellar tendinitis.
  • Patellofemoral pain syndrome.
  • Posterior cruciate ligament injury.
  • Torn meniscus.

Post-surgery rehabilitation

Prior to and after surgery, joint motion and muscle strength are lost quickly. Proper rehabilitation is required to restore normal joint movement and return your strength.

Depending on the injury and type of surgery, you can experience a simple rehabilitative process or a complicated recovery. Our expertise in treating many post-surgical patients means we can achieve excellent outcomes for your recovery no matter the extent of your injury. We are with you every step of the way.

Post-surgery rehabilitation can help:

  • Restore normal movement in your joint.
  • Build up strength in the joint and surrounding muscles.
  • Ease pain and swelling.
  • Get you back to your normal activities.
  • Increase circulation so you don't have problems with blood clots.

Our post-surgery rehabilitation program is ideal for:

  • Knee, hip and shoulder joint replacements.
  • ACL, MCL, PCL and LCL tears of the knee.
  • Meniscus and arthroscopy surgery recovery.
  • Shoulder post-surgery rehab for rotator cuff tears, arthroscopy and more.
  • Hand and tendon repairs.
  • General rehabilitation after surgery.


Arthritis affects the cartilage of joints, and most pain is due to wear and tear. However, the uneven wear and tear causes cartilage debris to shave off into the joint, causing painful inflammation. This condition is made worse by a tightening of the tissue of the joint, loss of muscle strength supporting the joint and altered movement because of range of motion problems. The good news is that you don't have to live with arthritis pain or take constant medication. The right physical therapy can make all the difference.

Physical therapy is one of the most important treatments for arthritis and makes a significant impact in your joint health. While our physical therapists cannot repair your cartilage, our unique treatments can reduce or completely alleviate your pain and swelling and improve your ability to walk, run, bend or reach.

In physical therapy we focus on the following:

  • Restoring natural, pain-free range of motion in your joints.
  • Improving muscular support and strength around your joints.
  • Enhancing joint balance and function.
  • Teaching you what to do to protect your joints from further damage.

Some of the conditions that benefit from physical therapy:

  • Osteoarthritis.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Psoriatic arthritis.
  • Joint pain.
  • Post-surgery recovery.
  • Joint replacement recovery.

Balance and walking

Our ability to balance depends on three main components including: sensation from joints and muscles, the inner ear, and vision. As we age, our reflexes slow down slightly. This makes it difficult to adapt to uneven terrain such as grass, cracked pavement, gravel and stairs. In addition, poor posture, weakness in the hips and ankles, and poor eyesight can all contribute to poor balance. Poor balance can cause trips, falls and numerous associated injuries.

Our physical therapy treatments are uniquely designed to your needs. We evaluate your walking pattern to determine where you are compensating for weaknesses or poor muscle coordination. Further testing on your balance determines where we need to focus our attention on to achieve the greatest results for you.

Work injury

For injured workers

Being injured at work can cause significant stress, pain and aggravation affecting your ability to effectively work and provide adequate income for your needs. Our number one priority is to ensure that your pain is relieved fast and you can safely return to work as soon as possible. We emphasize the following when it comes to your recovery after a work-related injury:

  • Relieve pain quickly.
  • Restore normal range of motion.
  • Restore strength, flexibility and stamina.
  • Ensure a complete recovery after an necessary surgical procedures.
  • Education on how to manage your injury and prevent future occurrences.

Talk to your employer or case manager today to learn how our physical therapist can help you recover quickly from your injury and get back to work safely!

For case managers and employers

Our physical therapists offer a variety of comprehensive programs to help injured workers recover quickly and safely. Once a worker has been injured, it is our goal to restore him/her to optimal function for safe and efficient job performance in a timely manner. We provide effective case management; detailed and timely reports; and positive communication between healthcare providers, workers and case managers for the worker's compensation case.

We assess the worker's current functional abilities and gather information regarding his/her job requirements. Treatment is both evaluative and restorative. Therapy will utilize a combination of manual therapy techniques, therapeutic exercises, body mechanics training, modalities and patient education/ home programming.

Preventive care benefits to employers:

  • Decreased turnover.
  • Increased worker productivity.
  • Safer work environment.
  • Reductions in lost time.
  • Diminished incidence of fraud and abuse.


A concussion is an injury that occurs from a blow to the head, face or neck. The force is transferred to the brain and may temporarily alter an individual's mental or physical abilities. Some individuals may lose consciousness with the event of a concussion, but many do not. Symptoms may appear immediately, or may not be noticed until days after.

By utilizing a comprehensive healthcare team of physical therapists, we are able to provide care in the hopes of regaining a safe return to function, activity, sport and daily life. Our goal is to increase awareness of concussion injuries, as well as manage symptoms post-concussion. St. Francis Rehabilitation & Sports Medicine provides comprehensive care for individuals suffering from symptoms of post-concussion syndrome and caters to the individual's physical, emotional and cognitive needs.

Our program provides an integrative team approach. This team may include referring providers and physicians, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech pathologists, and athletic trainers. Physical therapists will help with symptoms including headache, decreased balance and decreased activity tolerance. Speech therapists can help with cognitive deficits, including difficulties with memory or concentration. Occupational therapists can intervene with symptoms involving changes with vision.

Our concussion program is appropriate for a variety of ages, whether the patient is a student athlete or a senior citizen.

We also offer ImPACT pre- and post-concussion testing to establish a patient's baseline readings in case of future concussion.

Neurological conditions

Diseases and injuries to the nervous system can have dramatic effects across the body. Simple tasks can become extremely difficult and a patient's independence can be lost. The nervous system controls the muscles of the body, joint movements, balance and coordination. The right kind of therapy can improve your level of function, relieve pain, improve your balance, and enhance walking and safety in individuals with neurological diseases or injuries.

Our therapists are experts in treating neurological diseases and injuries, providing a comprehensive plan to help each individual reach their maximum level of function.

Common neurological conditions we treat:

  • Balance and difficulty walking.
  • Nerve injuries.
  • Multiple Sclerosis.
  • Muscular dystrophy.
  • Nerve pain, neuropathy and weakness.
  • Paralysis or hemi-paralysis.
  • Parkinson's disease.
  • Stroke (CVA).

Relieving pain

Nerve pain can come from a variety of issues, but physical therapy helps to sooth irritated nerve endings and provide feedback to the nervous system to calm nerves through a variety of different treatments, including gentle, hands-on therapy and massage techniques, joint mobilization techniques, electrical stimulation and specialized nerve exercises.

Improving function and safety

People suffering from neurological diseases and injuries typically have a higher tendency for falls or injuring themselves. Imagine if you trip and fall. Can you react quickly enough to protect yourself? In addition, common actions such as getting up from a chair or low surface, kneeling to the floor, or getting out of car can become difficult and even dangerous.

These are common areas of concern we address and work closely with you to improve. Our treatments will help you move better, safer and with greater strength.

Walking and balance

With many common neurological conditions such as stroke, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis and more, walking and balance is greatly affected. This dramatically affects one's independence and increases the risk of falling.

Our physical therapists will analyze your walking, balance and coordination, using state-of-the-art equipment to determine the best course of treatment and exercises to help you enhance your ability to walk and balance. Our No. 1 priority is giving you the ability to move around safely and with the least effort possible. We also properly train you if you require an assistive device such as cane or walker.

Activities of daily living

Adapting one's lifestyle due to a neurological disease or injury is important. Our focus is on working with you to determine appropriate modifications to your daily activities and routines that will allow you the greatest independence. Many common actions such as reaching, bending down and getting up from a low chair can all be improved upon with the right therapy.


Do you suffer from headaches, grinding of your teeth, clicking of your jaw or even ear pain? These can all be signs of temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome, also known as the temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJD), a disorder of the jaw muscles and nerves caused by injury to the temporomandibular joint between your jaw and skull. The injured joint causes pain with chewing, clicking and popping of the jaw, swelling on the sides of the face, nerve inflammation, headaches, tooth grinding, and sometimes dislocation of the temporomandibular joint.

Multiple factors contribute to the muscle tightness and dysfunction that characterize TMJ. Most often, poor posture and neck alignment change the pull of the muscles that make your jaw move. This causes painful grinding and irritation. Other causes may include poor alignment of or trauma to the teeth or jaw, grinding, poor posture, stress, arthritis or other inflammatory musculoskeletal disorders, and chewing gum.

Our therapists can help resolve the pain caused by TMJ, first starting with a thorough evaluation of your complaints to determine the cause of your problem. A comprehensive plan will be developed to quickly relieve your pain, restore natural movement to your joint and teach you techniques for regaining normal jaw movement for long-lasting results.

The focus of physical therapy for TMJ is relaxation, stretching and releasing tight muscles and scar tissue. In most cases physical therapy can resolve TMJ pain and prevent the need for surgery. However, in cases where surgery is absolutely necessary, physical therapy is a vital part of the recovery process, as it helps minimize scar tissue formation, muscle tightness and allows for a complete recovery.


The lymphatic system is a network of vessels that carry lymph fluid towards the heart. The lymphatic system is an essential part of your immune and circulatory systems. When a blockage happens in your lymphatic system, swelling of your arms or legs may occur. Improper drainage results in a buildup of the lymph fluid in your arms or legs, which can generate adverse health risks.

Lymphedema often occurs after a surgery, such as the removal or damage to the lymph nodes as part of cancer treatments or due to infected tissues. With chronic swelling, there are many risks, including circulation issues, risk of infection and potential for future injury. It is very important to receive treatment for lymphedema and to follow up with your doctor on a routine basis.

Our comprehensive lymphedema treatments include:

  • Manual lymphatic drainage (MLD). A gentle, hands-on massage of both the affected body part and adjacent selected areas. MLD can move lymph fluid from the swollen region into parts of the lymphatic system that are still functioning. From there, the fluid is transported throughout the circulatory system.
  • Compression bandaging. After MLD, the treated area is wrapped with layers of compression bandages. Bandages help prevent the reaccumulation of lymphatic fluid.
  • Therapeutic exercise. Medically supervised exercise programs are designed to strengthen muscles and improve circulation and function of the lymph system.
  • Personalized education in self-care. Our lymphedema therapy specialists will teach you how to maintain your treatment progress through at-home techniques, including self-bandaging, self-massage, exercise, and skin and nail care.

Women's health

Our women's health rehabilitation program is designed for any woman who is experiencing symptoms related to pregnancy (pre and post natal) urinary incontinence, pelvic pain, pelvic organ prolapse, and a variety of other bladder and bowel conditions.

Examples of conditions we treat include:

  • Muscular or joint impairment related to pregnancy or childbirth.
  • Back, tailbone or pubic pain.
  • Sciatica (tingling sensations).
  • Separation of the abdominal muscles.
  • Pelvic floor muscle tension or pain.
  • Postsurgical abdominal or pelvic pain.
  • Incontinence.
  • Pelvic floor weakness.
  • Muscular or joint impairment related to childcare activities or menopause.
  • Lymphedema.

Physical therapists with special training will use a variety of techniques while working with you to reach your goals.

These methods include:

  • Manual therapy techniques to relax tight muscles and restore pelvic symmetry.
  • Therapeutic exercises to strengthen, stretch or retrain pelvic symmetry.
  • Treatments such as ultrasound or electrical stimulation for pain relief.
  • Biofeedback treatments to improve body awareness.
  • Education regarding posture, body mechanics, bladder and bowel health, general fitness, and pre- and postnatal fitness.
  • Use and fitting of support garments.

Women's health rehabilitation services are provided at the Shakopee and Savage locations. To learn more, call 952.428.2001.

Hand, wrist and elbow pain relief

If you suffer from an injury; arthritis; carpal tunnel syndrome; or other painful conditions of the hand, wrist or elbow, our physical and occupational therapists can help.

Hand therapy

Patients who are candidates for hand therapy may have been affected by an accident or trauma leaving them with wounds; scars; burns; injured tendons or nerves; fractures; or even amputations of the fingers, hands or arms. Others include patients who suffer from conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome and tennis elbow, as well as from chronic problems such as arthritis or a neurologic conditions (like stroke).

Hand therapy can provide a treatment without an operation to help reduce recent or long-lasting pain. The therapy provided can also help to reduce sensitivity and improve feelings after a nerve injury. There are a variety of exercises available to help improve movement and strength and reduce stiffness.

Hand therapists can also help a patient's recovery after surgery. This may include assistance with helping wounds heal, preventing infection, scar management and reducing swelling. The hand therapist can also fit or fabricate your splints to help aid the recovery and healing process following the surgery.

Carpal tunnel syndrome

If you suffer from tingling or numbness to the thumb and first two fingers or have pain in this area, you may have carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). CTS is a collection of symptoms that affects people of all ages, but occurs more in women between the ages of 30 to 64 years old. In addition, women who are pregnant often suffer with CTS.

Our expert therapists have years of experience and training treating people with CTS. There are several therapeutic options for quickly relieving the symptoms, reducing the inflammation and relieving the pressure on the nerves. In addition, for long-term results our physical therapists know the right techniques to gently stretch the carpal ligament and show you how to prevent re-injury.

Recovery after injury

Whether you suffered a sprained wrist or you're recovering from a severe fracture, our skilled therapists can get you back to pain-free activities. During physical and occupational therapy we work closely with you and your doctor to provide the most efficient and effective treatment plan.

The first step is to relieve your pain as quickly as possible, then care is taken to restore normal movement. Finally, muscles are strengthened to support and stabilize the area. Teaching you how to maintain your strength and independence once you leave physical therapy is our priority.

Some of the many hand, wrist and elbow conditions we treat:

  • Arthritis.
  • Joint pain.
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Fractures of the wrist, hand or elbow.
  • Tendonitis.
  • Sprains.
  • Tennis or golfer's elbow.
  • Tendon repairs.


"Pre-hab" is an exercise therapy program started at least six weeks (and preferably longer) before a planned surgery. It's a new concept to many.

The positive results of pre-hab become apparent during the 24 hours after surgery. For example, the day after a knee-replacement surgery, patients are expected to be walking (using crutches or a walker) short distances to promote healing. They generally must be able to go up and down two to four steps and walk 50 to 100 feet before leaving the hospital (usually in three to five days). The improved strength that people gain from pre-hab can help them achieve some of those milestones in less time.

Patients who are more fit prior to surgery may have shorter hospital stays and may be discharged and sent to outpatient rehabilitation, rather than to a rehabilitation facility for inpatient therapy.

Vertigo and dizziness

Dizziness typically occurs from poor perception in the joints and muscles, combined with visual tracking problems and poor inner ear coordination with your vestibular system. When the brain receives all these mixed signals, it becomes confused and dizziness occurs. Vertigo is a spinning sensation that typically occurs because of problems between the visual tracking and balance systems in the inner ear.

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (or BPPV) is the most common cause of vertigo, a false sensation of spinning.

  • Benign—it is not life-threatening.
  • Paroxysmal—it comes in sudden, brief spells.
  • Positional—it gets triggered by certain head positions or movements.
  • Vertigo—a false sense of rotational movement.

BPPV occurs when some of the calcium carbonate crystals that are normally embedded in your ear become dislodged and move to the semicircular canals, where they are not supposed to be. When enough of these particles accumulate, they interfere with the normal fluid movement used to sense head motion, causing the inner ear to send false signals to the brain.

This false information does not match with what the other ear is sensing, with what the eyes are seeing, or with what the muscles and joints are doing, and this mismatched information is perceived by the brain as a spinning sensation, or vertigo. Between vertigo spells some people feel symptom-free, while others feel a mild sense of imbalance or disequilibrium.

BPPV is fairly common. Many people describe that they simply went to get out of bed one morning and the room started to spin. However associations have been made with trauma, migraine, inner ear infection or disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, intubation (presumably due to prolonged time lying in bed), and reduced blood flow.

Our expert physical therapists have years of training in movement and balance analysis. We perform a thorough evaluation to determine where your dizziness/vertigo/balance problem lies, and then formulate a complete treatment plan that will improve your balance, reduce your dizziness and train you on what you can do to maintain the improvement.

Some of the common conditions we treat:

  • Benign positional vertigo (benign paroxysmal positional vertigo).
  • Injury (such as head injury).
  • Inflammation of the vestibular nerve (neuritis).
  • Labyrinthitis.
  • Meniere's disease.
  • Migraine.
  • Multiple sclerosis.
  • Stroke.

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