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Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation — Conditions We Treat

The following conditions are some of the most common conditions treated by specialists in this area. These specialists offer expert care for many other related medical problems. If you need care for a condition not listed here, please call (888) 352-RUSH (7874) to find a doctor who can help you.

  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a rapidly progressing disease that attacks the nerve cells in the spinal cord that are responsible for controlling voluntary muscles.
  • The two types of back pain are acute, which typically occurs after a fall, injury or heavy lifting, and chronic, which persists for three months or longer.
  • Balance Disorders

    Balance disorders are conditions that make a person feel dizzy, lightheaded or otherwise unsteady. Common symptoms of balance disorders include vertigo (a spinning sensation), dizziness, lightheadedness or faintness.
  • Bell’s palsy is temporary weakness or paralysis of facial muscles. It can occur when a viral infection or underlying illness causes facial muscles to get swollen, inflamed or compressed. This leads to nerve dysfunction that affects appearance.
  • A brain tumor is an abnormal growth of tissue in the brain. Brain tumors can be cancerous (malignant) or noncancerous (benign).
  • Bursitis is when a bursa — a small, fluid-filled sac with a jelly-like feel that helps protect bones — becomes swollen or irritated.
  • Capsulitis

    Capsulitis is when the lining of a joint becomes inflamed and causes the casing of tissue around the joint to contract. This makes the joint stiff, and bands of tissue called adhesions form around the capsule, limiting mobility and causing pain. Capsulitis can affect any joint but most commonly occurs in the toes and shoulder (this is known as adhesive capsulitis or “frozen shoulder”).  
  • The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway on the inside of the wrist. Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve, which runs through the passageway, is squeezed or compressed by the surrounding tissue.
  • Cerebral Palsy

    Cerebral palsy is a group of neurological conditions that permanently affect the parts of the brain that control movement. Most children who have cerebral palsy are born with it, although symptoms may not appear for months. Children with cerebral palsy often have trouble with balance and walking and have stiff or tight muscles.
  • Chronic Pain

    Chronic pain occurs when pain signals from the brain last for months, even years. Chronic pain can be caused by, or made worse by, many conditions, including headaches or migraines, back pain, arthritis and nerve damage (neuropathy). Because of its ongoing nature, chronic pain can also cause depression.
  • Concussion is a form of traumatic brain injury. When a person suffers a bump, blow or jolt to the head, the brain can shift and hit the inside of the skull.
  • In spite of its name, degenerative disc disease is not actually a disease. It refers to the natural process by which the intervertebral discs of the spine change as people age.
  • Diabetic Neuropathy

    Diabetic neuropathy is nerve damage (neuropathy) caused by diabetes or poorly controlled blood sugar. Diabetes is the most common cause of neuropathy. Diabetic neuropathy symptoms include numbness, tingling, burning and/or pain in the feet, legs and hands.
  • If the pelvic floor becomes weakened or damaged — for example, during childbirth — the small intestine, or small bowel, can start bulging into the vagina, causing pain and discomfort. This is called enterocele.
  • Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that causes muscle pain in the muscles, ligaments and tendons, fatigue and "tender points” that hurt when even a little pressure is applied.
  • Headaches are the most common form of pain. Headache types include migraines and tension headaches.
  • Knee pain is one of the most common orthopedic problems for people of all ages. Knee pain is most often caused by overuse injuries such as tendonitis, bursitis and patellofemoral pain syndrome (“runner’s knee”) that produce inflammation (pain and swelling).
  • Lymphedema is caused by a backup of lymph fluid, which can lead to swelling in the arms, legs, breast, chest wall, trunk or groin. Your lymphedema care plan at Rush is tailored to your specific symptoms and needs, with the goals of decreasing pain and swelling, improving your ability to move freely and getting you back to the activities you enjoy.
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease of the central nervous system characterized by the destruction of the myelin sheath surrounding neurons in the brain. This destruction slows down the transmission of signals along the nerves, which causes the symptoms associated with MS.
  • Myofascial pain syndrome (also called chronic myofascial pain) is a condition in which connective tissue called fascia tightens and contracts. This is usually from an injury or overuse (repetitive motion).
  • Neck Pain

    Neck pain is common and often results from strain or tension caused by everyday activities, such as routinely sleeping, working or watching TV in an uncomfortable position. Other, more serious possible causes include sprains, fractures and spinal stenosis.
  • Neuropathy refers to any disorder in which the body’s nerves are damaged and do not work properly. The damage may be to a single nerve or to several nerves. Examples of neuropathy symptoms are numbness, tingling, weakness and pain.
  • With osteoarthritis, or degenerative arthritis, the cartilage that cushions joints loses its elasticity and wears away in places. This makes the bones rub together, causing pain, stiffness and swelling. In addition to wear and tear, research by rheumatologists at Rush and other centers suggests that inflammation may contribute to the development of osteoarthritis.
  • Parkinsonism

    Parkinsonisms are disorders that cause symptoms similar to those caused by Parkinson’s disease. Parkinsonisms include multiple system atrophy, progressive supranuclear palsy and cortiobasal degeneration.
  • Plantar fasciitis occurs when tissue on the bottom of the foot is overstretched or overused and becomes inflamed (swollen and irritated) and painful.
  • Injury to the rotator cuff — four small muscles and tendons coming off the shoulder blade — can happen during a fall or accident or develop over time from overuse.
  • Sacroiliac Joint Pain

    Sacroiliac joint pain, also known as SI joint pain, is pain caused by damage to the sacroiliac joint, which connects the hip to the spine. It is a common cause of lower back pain.
  • Sciatica occurs when there is damage to or pressure on the sciatic nerve, which causes nerve pain. The sciatic nerve starts in the low back and runs down the back or side of the leg.
  • Shoulder Dislocation

    Shoulder dislocation is when the ball part of the shoulder moves partially or completely out of the socket, causing pain and instability in the shoulder joint. This can happen from a traumatic injury or from overuse. Once a shoulder is dislocated, it is then more vulnerable to slipping out of place again.
  • Shoulder Impingement

    Shoulder impingement — inflammation of the rotator cuff tendons and bursa in the shoulder — is a common injury in athletes who use overhead throwing or lifting motions. It causes pain throughout the shoulder joint (extending as far as the elbow) that may be manageable at first but typically worsens over time. Other symptoms include decreased range of motion and strength in the shoulder; after a prolonged period, it may be difficult to lift the arm over the head.    
  • Shoulder pain can result from many different injuries, such as a rotator cuff tear, or it can be a symptom of a condition like osteoarthritis.
  • Tendonitis is swelling and irritation of a tendon, the sinewy structure that connects muscle to bone. It is caused by injury or overuse.
  • Traumatic brain injury happens when the head violently hits an object or when an object punctures the skull and goes into the brain.
  • Ulnar Collateral Ligament (UCL) Injury

    UCL injury most often occurs in athletes who use overhead motions or throw a lot, putting extreme stress on the ulnar collateral ligament. Symptoms include pain on the inside of the elbow, a feeling of looseness or instability in the elbow, and tingling or numbness in the small finger and ring finger. The injury also impairs a person’s ability to throw, though it rarely affects other types of motion.  
  • Vaginal Pain

    Vaginal pain, pain that occurs only in the vaginal area or that spreads down from the pelvis or cervix, can be caused by a medical or psychological issue. The most common cause is infection, but it can also stem from a condition called dyspareunia (painful intercourse), trauma or another condition.
  • Vertigo is a sensation of motion — a feeling that you are spinning or moving while standing still, or that the world is spinning around you. Some people describe vertigo as a feeling of dizziness.
  • Vulvodynia is vulvar pain without a clear cause. It may occur anywhere in the vulva, or external female genital area, which includes the vaginal opening, labia and clitoris.