PTC Blog

Recent research is showing that surgery might not be needed as often as we think. A large review estimates that 10% to 20% of surgeries might be unnecessary and that in some specialties such as cardiology and orthopedics, that number might be higher. The reasons for so many unneeded surgeries being performed are varied, but the most common are that more conservative options aren’t tried first, or lack of knowledge by the operating physician.

Physicians undergo long and rigorous training programs to become surgeons, but if they don’t work hard to keep learning, their knowledge often stops growing when they leave residency. Recent research is showing that certain common surgeries aren’t any better than a placebo. Two such examples are kyphoplasty – a procedure for spinal compression fractures, and partial meniscectomy – a procedure used to treat tears of the meniscus in the knee. If a surgeon hasn’t continued to learn, they won’t know that these surgeries often don’t offer any more benefit than a non-surgical treatment and will continue to perform them.

Every surgery, even “minor” ones carry risks. These include complications from anesthesia, blood clots after surgery, delayed healing of the incision, infection, and unintended damage to nerves or other organs near the surgical site. Some of these risks cause discomfort for a period after surgery and go away, but others can result in permanent disability or even death. For some patients and conditions, surgery is a great treatment option, but with all the associated risks, when surgery can be avoided, it should be.

For musculoskeletal problems like back and joint pain, sprains, and strains, seeing your PT before a surgeon can help keep you out of the operating room and get you back to life without surgery. Studies have shown that physical therapy is just as good if not better than surgery for a multitude of conditions and carries less risk. Some examples would include rotator cuff tears, meniscal tears, spinal stenosis, low back pain, and osteoarthritis.

Physical therapy can’t fix every problem, and for some patients surgery is the best choice. However, research is showing that surgery isn’t a cure-all, and is sometimes just a very expensive and risky placebo. In most cases, starting with physical therapy is the right choice, and for many patients, PT is the only treatment necessary.

Article obtained The American Physical Therapy Association Private Practice Section June 2019 Newsletter

June 22nd, 2019

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Physical Therapist Assistant/ Athletic Trainer

Educational Institutions: BS Athletic Training, St. Cloud State University (2016), Associate of Applied Science Physical Therapist Assistant, Anoka Ramsey Community College (2019)

Professional Interest Area/Treating Philosophy: Professional interest area includes athletic injury prevention, rehabilitation and manual therapy techniques. I enjoy working with athletes and patients, providing care to restore function and reduce pain to enable the patient to get back to what they want to do.

Other: In my free time I enjoy going for long bike rides, working out, kicking footballs and spending time with my wife. In the winter time, I like to go snowboarding with friends.

June 12th, 2019

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Rock climbing is a great full body workout incorporating upper body, lower body and core muscles! For beginner climbers, you can rent the proper safety equipment required (shoes, harness, helmet, and chalk bag) at an indoor climbing facility, such as Vertical Endeavors, for relatively cheap. For more experience climbers, it gets little more expensive as climbers usually purchase their own gear. Experienced climbers can also transition to climbing outdoors! Disclaimer: I DO NOT recommend climbing outdoors unless you know what you are doing and go with someone who knows how to safely set up routes. Anyway, it’s important to strengthen between climbs to improve your form and help you reach the top of your goal route!

Here are 5 exercise to make you a better climber.

  1. Pull ups: Start by grabbing the bar from underneath, with your palms facing you. Set your shoulder blades and pull yourself up until your chin is above the bar. Set a goal to complete 5-10 in a row!
  2. Planks: Planks are a great core strengthening exercise. Start on your elbows and toes. Contract your abdominal muscles and glutes. Maintain a neutral spine by not letting your hips drop. Hold for 1 minute.
  3. Single Leg Squats: For climbing you often need to push up from 1 leg to reach the next hold, instead of trying to pull yourself up with your arms. Standing on 1 leg, bend your knee toward the floor, sticking your bottom out lie you are sitting down in a chair. Don’t let your
    knees go past your toes. Complete 15 reps on each leg.
  4. Heel Raises (Single leg and double leg): Again you often have to push up from 1 leg, so the foot and calve muscles also have to be strong. Start with both feet on the floor as close together as possible. Keeping your legs straight raise up onto your toes and slowly lower toward the ground. You can also try them while only standing on 1 leg! Complete 20 repetitions.
  5. Push ups: With your arms slightly outside of shoulder width apart and elbows bent. Maintain a neutral spine, by tightening your abdominal muscles. Push up while maintaining a neutral spine, until elbows are straight. Slowly lower back down. Complete 15-20 repetitions.

Do you have any experience with rock climbing or would like to try it? Let us know! As always if pain is limiting you from doing things you enjoy give us a call at 1-888-THERAPY.

Happy Climbing!

Rebecca Varoga, PT, DPT
Physical Therapist
Isanti Physical Therapy

June 5th, 2019

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Whether you are currently a runner or you are thinking about getting into the sport as a fun spring activity to reach your health and cardiovascular goals, you may have to recharge your program and start slow and low to avoid injury or return to previous level of fitness.

Sometimes this can be hard to know where to start. One of the main objectives with setting up a return to running program is starting at a slow pace and building up your endurance to avoid injury and build your tolerance to increased activities. Many times we will want to push through
our pain because we believe that will get us to reach our goals quicker. A lot of times this can result in burn out and pain which can lead to dropping off your program all together.

It is important to find a realistic starting point in your fitness level and build up from there. Many times an interval training program is a good way to start. In this way you can build your cardio endurance and strength slowly with out feeling like you are pushing past your limits. The following link is a good resource to an example of an interval training program that can get you moving in the right direction. Many times it is smart to start slow, even at a brisk walk and build up your pace as your program progresses.

Return to Running Progression

Along with an interval program to slowly build up endurance and strength it is good to also strengthen the muscles surrounding the lower extremity joints and core to reduce stresses through these areas with over use. Here are a couple basic exercises to build both strength and flexibility.

-heel raises
-side laying hip abduction
-planks (forward/side)
-hamstring stretch
-quadriceps stretch
-piriformis stretch

It is also important to point out that cross training with other activities like yoga, cycling, and weight lifting is a good way to improve strength and health while also mixing up your program to avoid over use injuries. Also, don’t forget to add in a good warm up before jumping into your activities. Good blood flow and muscle extensibility before asking your muscles to preform strenuous tasks with help to reduce the chance of injury.

Lauren Rood, LPTA
Physical Therapist Assistant
Isanti Physical Therapy

May 30th, 2019

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Now that we have turned the corner and are hopefully getting away from snowflakes, it’s time for patio season. Here is a refreshing drink for adults and kids alike to enjoy all Spring and Summer long and it even has some health benefits!!

Strawberry Watermelon Cucumber Juice!

You will need:

– a juicer or blender

– 8-10 strawberries

– 1 cup of cut, cubed watermelon (remove seeds if not using a seedless watermelon)

-1/4 peeled cucumber

Place all ingredients into juicer or blender and mix well. Place in the refrigerator for 1 hour then enjoy!

Health Benefits of the 3 ingredients:

– Strawberries: a great source of vitamin C, fiber and antioxidants.

  • Boost immunity function
  • Regulate blood sugar
  • Helps arthritis by decreasing inflammation
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Digestive health
  • Helps regulate mood from omega-3 fatty acids in the seeds

-Watermelon: high in vitamin A, vitamin C, and antioxidants

  • High water content helps keep you hydrated and improve digestion
  • Improve heart health
  • Brain health from the antioxidant lycopene
  • Help relieve muscle soreness

-Cucumber: high in vitamins and minerals

  • Also with a high water content to keep you hydrated and decrease inflammation
  • Lower blood sugar

Kerra Pietsch, LPTA
Physical Therapist Assistant
Andover Physical Therapy

May 22nd, 2019

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Summer is the perfect time to kick off your socks and shoes and just let your feet be free.  After a long, cold winter (especially here in Minnesota anyway), kicking off boots or closed toe shoes and slipping into a nice pair of sandals. For some of us though, this can be kind of tricky.  Are you like me and love flip flops, but notice that your heel hurts when you wear them? Do you need extra support, but not sure what to look for in a sandal?  

  • Choose sandals with a back that hold your foot securely. Any type of sandal that is loose on your foot (including a Birkenstok) will cause you to contract your foot slightly with each step to keep it in place. This causes increased tension in your feet that can lead to plantar fasciitis, knee pain and poor spinal health.
  • Ensure that you have proper arch support in your sandals.  If not, speak to one of the doctors about an inexpensive “Superfeet” insert that can be placed on the foot-bed of your sandal. Be careful about bare feet. Many of us love to kick off our shoes this time of year, however, if you are on your feet in the kitchen for long periods of time this can be hard on your joints…and they may start to talk to you. 

Flip-flops, Crocs, and other flat sandals can cause stress and strain on the arch of the foot. These types of summer shoes lack arch support, and can lead to pain in the heel, arch or ball of the foot. You do not have to completely avoid flip-flops, but do not make them your main footwear choice. Wear a supportive tennis shoe whenever possible, or choose a sandal with a sturdy arch. Never go barefoot, especially if you are prone to developing inflammation of your heel, known as plantar fasciitis.

Kaitlyn Grell, LPTA
Physical Therapist Assistant
Physical Therapy Consultants, Inc.

May 15th, 2019

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The future or work and the workers performing it is shifting. One noticeable change is the shifting of the median age of the labor force. The number of people performing labor jobs later in life continues to increase. In 1995 the percentage of employed adults planning to work past the age of 65 was 14%, in 2017 it increased to 39%. The significant increase in the median age of the workforce can be attributed to the overall population aging. The “baby-boomer” generation that was a result of surge in birth rate between 1946 and 1964 find themselves working past the age of retirement for a number of reasons. These include maintaining/restoring financial stability, maintaining employer benefits, and the social/work family circles that come with the workplace.

Workers continuing there job later into life have unique factors that must be considered. Veteran workers have knowledge of the job that only experience can create. These workers often are more cautious and often perform job tasks more safely, but also tend to have to work closer to their physiological limitations. It becomes important that the natural effects of aging are addressed to keep these employees working optimally. That is where the Fit for Work Boomer Programs fits in.

The Fit for Work Boomer Program decreases age-related limitations and manages those limitations that may exist. Our experts create individualized and group interventions to help workers. The Fit for Work Boomer Program addresses cardiorespiratory fitness and musculoskeletal health while understanding the effects of chronic health conditions. Our experts also work with employees and employers to create appropriate workplace accommodations when necessary.

For more information contact Physical Therapy Consultants, Inc. at 1-888-THERAPY.

Dustin Eslinger, MA, LAT, ATC
Director of Athletic Training Services
Physical Therapy Consultants, Inc.

May 8th, 2019

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“Arthritis” is not a single disease, but instead an informal way of referring to many types of joint disease and pain. Its hard to know the true number of individuals with arthritis since many don’t seek treatment until their symptoms become severe. However, recent studies say that as many as 91 million Americans suffer from arthritic changes.

There are different risk factors that increase your risk of developing arthritis over time. These include:

Gender: Females typically suffer from arthritis more.
Genetics: Arthritis can be linked to certain genetic components, making it more common within certain families.
Nutrition: Being sure to eat a diet full of calcium and vitamin D is important for bone and joint health.
Obesity: Individuals with extra weight, tend to wear down their joints quicker due to increase force.
Occupation: High manual labor jobs with repetitive movements take a toll on our joints

There are different types of arthritis, but the most common is osteoarthritis. This is a chronic condition that is caused by “wear and tear” of the cartilage. The breakdown of the cartilage in the joint can lead to pain, swelling, and problems moving the joint. There are many other types
of arthritis; including rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematous, Sjorgen’s syndrome, and scleroderma, just to name a few.

No matter what type of arthritis you are suffering from, it is important to diagnosis early. Research shows that there is a “window of opportunity” and if we can catch the joint changes earlier, we can help preserve joint function & prevent other serious health problems.

So where do you go for help? Physical therapy is a great place to start! Physical therapy can help by increasing the strength surrounding the affected joint which will offload the arthritic area, helping decrease pain. Movement is also key with this condition, since movement and exercise help to increase the joint fluid, lubricating the joint and making range of motion easier.

Your treatment in Physical Therapy may include:

Pain relieving modalities (hot/cold pack, electrical stimulation, ultrasound)

  • Manual therapy
  • Trigger point dry needling
  • Cupping
  • Aquatic/pool therapy
  • Functional activities
  • Balance activities
  • Paraffin wax treatments

Jenna Woelfel, PT, DPT
Physical Therapist
Ramsey Physical Therapy

April 24th, 2019

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Facts about Physical Activity and Health as an Older Adult

As we age, it can be harder to feel the desire to stay active. Heck, even as a young adult there are days that exercising sounds more like a chore. Below are a few facts about why it is important to stay active as we age.  

  • The nice thing about exercising, you can start anytime! Consult with your doctor before starting a new exercise routine to ensure safety.
  • A lifestyle balanced with aerobic activity, muscular strength and flexibility exercises helps decrease the higher risk of diseases such as diabetes, colon cancer, and hypertension.
  • Can lower and control blood pressure which reduces overall stress on the heart decreasing atherosclerotic build up.
  • It does not need to be strenuous! (walking, aquatics, cycling, etc.)
  • Keeping physically active can help decrease memory loss, problem solving skills, maintain spatial awareness. –Think of it like this – What’s good for the heart, is also good for the BRAIN!!
  • Decrease the development of balance issues. Stronger muscles help reduce the risk of falling and improve the ability to perform daily life tasks. Continue to live independently!
  • Reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety which helps improve mood and feelings of well-being.

Kerra Pietsch, LPTA
Physical Therapist Assistant
Andover Physical Therapy

This blog contains information form the American Council on Exercise and the CDC (Center of Disease Control and Prevention)

April 17th, 2019

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A fun Easter treat that teaches children (and adults!) the real reason behind the holiday of Easter. These resurrection rolls are so easy to make and absolutely delicious! This scrumptious Easter dessert are made of marshmallows wrapped inside a crescent, which become hollow as they bake, it represents the tomb of Jesus on Easter morning. When you break them open they are empty inside! Serves: 8 rolls


  • 1 can Pillsbury Crescent Dough
  • 8 large marshmallows
  • water
  • cinnamon & sugar mixed together in a bowl


  1. Preheat oven to 375ºF. Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray or line with parchment paper.
  2. Unroll crescent dough and separate each triangle.
  3. Have children dip marshmallow in water. Roll in cinnamon and sugar mixture.
  4. Place marshmallow in the top of the crescent roll and roll into a crescent roll shape, then secure the sides by tucking them under and pinching them closed. (Don’t worry about how they look! They will be yummy!)
  5. Place on prepared cookie sheet and repeat with remaining 7 rolls.
  6. Bake in preheated oven for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown on the outside.
  7. Let cool for a few minutes and then let the children pick a roll to open up. The marshmallow has disappeared!

Start a new tradition with your family this year and make these Resurrection Rolls. Your family will learn from them and have a delicious treat, too!

Kaitlyn Grell, LPTA
Physical Therapy Assistant
St. Francis Physical Therapy

April 10th, 2019

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