Send the Pills Packing: Why You Should Choose Physical Therapy for Pain Management

Whoever coined the phrase, “No pain, no gain” obviously didn’t have to deal with chronic pain on a daily basis.

For those of us who do suffer from chronic pain, we know that the only way to gain our lives back is to find relief. Pain is not normal and if you live with pain, you need to seek help for it asap.

Many people turn to pain medication to help relieve pain. And medication is an effective method of neutralizing the pain as long as it’s strictly monitored by a physician. But medication has its downsides too.

Physical therapy for pain management is also an effective way to send pain packing. In this article, we’ll discuss some of the problems with taking pain medications. And why PT might be a great alternative.

The Problems with Pain Meds

When prescribed by a doctor, pain medications are usually safe and effective. But doctors never truly know how their patients will react to medications. Here are a few of the most common problems with pain meds.

Pills Mask the Pain

Opioids are chemicals produced naturally by your body in response to pain. Prescription opioids mimic these chemicals, causing the body to relax and the pain to lessen. But they don’t actually treat anything.

Often, the underlying cause of pain is much more complicated. It may have to do with bone and joint health. Or it may be because of nerve damage or tissue disease.

Pills are Addictive

Pain medications are highly addictive. And although your doctor may have your best interest at heart, they never know how you’ll react to chemicals introduced to your body.

Once you’re addicted to pain medication, it’s very difficult to quit. Many times the body goes into withdrawal. And you may have to take more medications to help you recover.

There’s No End

Because pain medicine doesn’t actually heal the underlying cause of pain, there’s really no end in sight. And for many, the prospect of taking pain medicine indefinitely can be depressing. Discuss this issue with your doctor before starting a pain medication regimen.

The Benefits of Physical Therapy for Pain Mangement

Fortunately, there are plenty of natural alternatives to relieve pain. Physical therapy is a great way to keep your body moving and fix the underlying causes of pain.

PT often includes a series of stretches. These stretches can loosen up tight muscles and help you move around with less pain. Stretching also helps increase the range of motion in your joints, another great way to relieve pain.

Your physical therapist will work on exercises that increase strength. When you strengthen your bones and muscles, you’re less likely to feel pain when you move around. And you’re also less likely to injure yourself again.

But PT isn’t always about stretching and exercising. There are other treatments available in the physical therapy room that can help you deal with pain. These treatments include electrical and ultrasound stimulation to help with blood flow to your joints.

Your therapy might include heat and cold treatments that can reduce pain and inflammation. You might also receive a therapeutic massage during your session. Massages are great for improving blood flow and loosening muscles.

Ready to Schedule Your PT Appointment?

At St. William’s Living Center, we have a brand-new, state-of-the-art physical therapy treatment center at our main campus in Parkers Prairie. Our trained therapists are experts at administering physical therapy for pain management.

Call our office today to set up your appointment with our therapy staff. You won’t regret it!

What is Schizophrenia Anyway?

Many believe that Schizophrenia is a “split personality”, which it is not.  A “split personality” usually is associated with severe trauma whereas Schizophrenia is a thought disorder and tries to play tricks on a person’s mind.  Schizophrenia comes in active and residual phases, with active phases being more pronounced and eye-opening than when symptoms are more lingering and at a lower level of intensity.  

Active symptoms primarily fool the person into trusting illusionary experiences that hinder their ability to stay in touch with reality.  These symptoms include seeing, hearing or even feeling things that no one else can (hallucinations), having beliefs or delusions about something even if it is proven false, having difficulty organizing their thoughts or connecting them logically (disorganized thinking), and at times experiencing involuntary movements or lack of movement altogether (catatonic).  Examples of those struggling with active symptoms include those listening and talking to no one except the voices coming from within their head, displaying paranoia or worrying that others may be talking about them or out to get them, seeing things not there or feeling bodily symptoms, such as feeling bugs crawling on the skin, and/or feeling pressure/pain which is not real. 

And then there are those negative or residual symptoms that come in between, with minimal emotion or a depressed mood, lacking interest in doing things and not finding pleasure in their days.  finding it difficult to feel pleasure in everyday life, avoiding involvement in planned activities and reduced interaction with others, as well as eating/sleeping problems, etc. 

Oftentimes, these individuals can be found in low rental units or are homeless due to having little money to work with.  Usually, many are unemployable due to being overwhelmed by their symptoms, including their lack of organized thoughts, intermittent active delusions and hallucinations, poor health, interactional problems, etc.  Primarily, these individuals are not dangerous, and are at comparable levels to those that have a substance abuse problem. 

Usually, Schizophrenia comes on gradually, beginning in young adulthood and is chronic in nature, although symptoms generally wane when older.  The cause of Schizophrenia varies from environmental (cannabis or drug use during adolescence, certain infections, ages of the person’s parents upon conception, poor nutrition during pregnancy) to genetic factors with rare genetic deviations and a family predisposition to the disorder.  

Less than 1% of the population is diagnosed with Schizophrenia.  About 20% of those diagnosed eventually do well, but only a few recover completely.  Generally, their life expectancy is 20-25 years less than the average population. Oftentimes, as a means of coping, caffeine, cannabis, and cigarettes (80-90% vs. 20% for the general population) are used more frequently compared to the general population. They also have a higher suicide rate at 5-10% of the general population vs. 20-40% of those who have schizophrenia. 

Anti-psychotic medication, counseling, job training and social rehabilitation are primary treatments.  Unfortunately, medication compliance is a complication for those that forget to take them, struggle with the side effects or become delusional about being poisoned or controlled.  The general population needs to understand this disorder, without being afraid or judging those that have it.  Schizophrenia is unpredictable and a diagnosis no one desires.  Support and understanding are excellent antidotes for those oftentimes suffering alone.

Claudia A. Liljegren, MSW, LICSW

St. Williams Mental Health

Advice for Caregivers: Tips to Help Your Loved One Adjust to Life in a Nursing Home

Advice for Caregivers: Tips to Help Your Loved One Adjust to Life in a Nursing Home

David Bowie had a good point when he sang about turning to face our major life “ch-ch-ch-changes”. 

Unfortunately, change isn’t always easy to deal with. And as a caregiver to an aging relative, one of the biggest life changes you’ll face is moving them into a nursing home. 

But have no fear! Because life for your loved one in a skilled nursing facility can be full and happy. And there are a few things you can do to make the transition easier. 

Keep reading for some essential tips to help your loved one adjust to life in a nursing home.

Share What You Know

It’s important that you keep the lines of communication between you and the nursing home staff. Before your loved one moves in, make sure to give their new caregivers a rundown of what they like and dislike.

Write down their current daily schedule. Include a general timeframe for when they wake and when they go to bed. Note when they like to eat and when they usually take their medications. And it’s especially important to let the nursing home staff know their hobbies.

The more information you can give them, the better. This information gives the staff a better idea of how to talk to and interact with your family member. And this is invaluable for a smooth transition from home care to a nursing facility.

Visit Often

Although nursing homes are full of people, it’s easy for seniors to feel lonely. Especially if they don’t get visitors very often. Keep up with a regular visitation schedule to help them adjust to the new living situation.

Visits don’t need to be long or drawn out. Even if you can only stay for a few minutes, your loved one will greatly appreciate it. While you’re visiting, encourage them to get involved with the different social activities available at the nursing home. 

When they first move in, plan to attend certain activities, such as appreciation dinners and music nights. It can be hard for people in a new situation to make new friends and associate with other residents. If you’re there for them in the beginning, they’ll feel more comfortable going to these fun events by themselves in the future. 

Ask Their Opinion

One of the biggest issues that people face when they move into a skilled nursing facility is that they feel like they’re losing control over their living situation. Help combat this by asking them to give you feedback about the care they are receiving. Let them get involved in their care plan.

Discuss the care plan with the nursing home staff and let your relative sit in on these discussions. This way, you can find out what they like and dislike about the facility. And this information will help the nursing home staff to better care for your family member.

Bring a Little Piece of Home

Although their new room at the nursing home isn’t as big as a house, there is still plenty of room to customize. Bring their favorite photographs from home and ask the staff to hang them on the walls. 

Instead of buying new bedding, consider using the bedding from their bed at home to make them feel more comfortable. If your relative has a collection of knick-knacks or books that they love, bring those along too. 

Ask the facility about rearranging the furniture in the room so they can have a better view of the window. Also, bring in their own bath toiletries. These items are small, but they can make a big difference in helping them feel more comfortable in their new home.

Advice for Caregivers

Life in a nursing home doesn’t have to mean staying in bed all day. With these tips, you can help your loved one adjust quickly to their new environment. And give them the confidence they need to branch out and enjoy their time in a long-term care facility.

At St. William’s Living Center, we offer a full calendar of activities each month. These activities are geared toward meeting the social and emotional needs of our residents. Visit our website to check out our activities calendar and plan your next visit with your loved one!

What is All this Talk about PTSD?

Initially, PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) was coined for Vets returning from war after experiencing military combat. Most returned without conversing about their horror stories, and instead kept the memories to themselves, likely contributing to their frequent and horrendous nightmares, flashbacks and intrusive thoughts.  Remarkably, many of these symptoms eventually became more manageable after realizing the importance of sharing their stories and developing support and comradery amongst each other. 

Since, PTSD has been recognized in numerous other traumatic events, including accidents, assaults, rape, natural disasters and the like.  Most of us know someone or even ourselves who have experienced trauma in some form or shape.  Oftentimes, people are able to return to equilibrium after a short time, but others continue to struggle to go on.  With PTSD, it isn’t about experiencing the trauma, it is about the effects it has that make it diagnosable.  The trauma experience becomes part of life, feeling stuck with repeated trauma-induced re-experiences. 

Theorists question if PTSD is simply our bodies not yet recovering from its attempt to survive the trauma after being so busy increasing its heart rate, pumping blood to muscles, preparing the body to fight or flee, and using all physical resources and energy to get out of harm’s way.  Others, find it a medical condition that needs treatment.

Regardless, those with PTSD experience nightmares that remind them of the trauma, flashbacks of parts of the trauma itself or similar thoughts or memories that invade their mind.  Those with PTSD attempt to avoid anything that may remind them of the trauma or don’t even remember what happened.  Despite their effort to avoid, they continue to be trapped with anxiety.  Oftentimes they blame themselves/others for what happened, see the world through the lens of further danger or negative beliefs about the future, experience ongoing fear, horror, anger, guilt or shame, and detach from others and are less interested in usual activities they used to enjoy.  They struggle with ongoing negative thoughts and have difficulty thinking positively or enjoying supportive emotions.   In addition, those with PTSD are more likely to experience increased irritability or anger outbursts, sleep disturbance, feeling on edge and are easily startled, have concentration difficulties, and may engage in activities that cause them harm.  Like other mental health disorders, diagnosable PTSD results in an individual’s inability to function at work or school, at home, and other important areas in daily living.  Unfortunately, but understandably, many individuals struggling with PTSD symptoms also struggle with other conditions such as substance use disorders, depression and anxiety.

Though PTSD cannot be cured, it can be treated and managed in several ways.  Specifically, Psychotherapy, such as cognitive processing therapy or group therapy, Medications, service animals, and Self-management strategies, such as self-soothing, meditation/mindfulness, prayer, and support and consolation, are all helpful to ground a person and bring them back to reality.  The goal is a return to a normal life and move forward, after a tragedy long remembered, but without the effects of being in the midst of it.

Claudia A. Liljegren, MSW, LICSW

St. Williams Mental Health

Moodiness or Bipolar Disorder

We all get moody from time to time. It’s this sort of feeling that none of us want to have, yet still escapes when we are most vulnerable.  If it be times we have been too stressed, or not sleeping well or just down in the dumps, it takes a toll.  When our guard is down and logic is snuffed out from our arising emotions, we may even take some pleasure in being callous towards others, be it yelling at an innocent person, kicking the dog, or sitting on the couch like a lump and telling ourselves how bad life is.  Yet, when it is all done, we feel bad, pull ourselves out of it, and try to be better next time. 

Bipolar Disorder is different than moodiness.  It usually comes about from several factors, including genetics, brain structure and function, and a vulnerability to stress which can induce symptoms.  Bipolar Disorder is a mental illness that causes dramatic shifts in a person’s mood, different from the typical ups and downs most people experience, interrupting their ability to maintain work or school or cause significant family disruption.  There are several types of Bipolar Disorder, with the primary differences being the degree to which or severity an individual experiences manic and/or depressive symptom.  Mood frequency changes are usually at least 1-2 weeks in duration, although there are those that are more rapid cyclers, at 1-2-day overturns. 

Manic symptoms range in severity, but include a distinct period of at least one week in which the individual has an expansive, elevated or irritated mood and a persistent focus on goals or excessive physical energy or agitation, in addition to several other symptoms, including an inflated self-esteem, decreased need for sleep, excessive talking, racing thoughts, easy distractibility, and/or excessive involvement in activities that have a high potential for painful consequences (e.g., buying sprees, sexual indiscretions, foolish business investments).

Depressive symptoms in Bipolar Disorder are similar to symptoms when someone is experiencing Major Depression, are at least 2 weeks in duration, and include a depressed mood most of the day nearly every day, a lack of interest in usual activities, significant weight loss/gain, insomnia or sleeping too much, being more or less active than usual, feeling worthless with inappropriate guilt, a lack of ability to think clearly, and/or thoughts of wanting to die or hurt yourself.  Usually, with Bipolar Disorder, the depressive symptoms feel more severe and distinct, especially after moving from a manic state.

Sometimes, those experiencing Bipolar Disorder may also exhibit psychotic thinking, such as hearing voices, have delusional thoughts, or become paranoid. 

Treatment usually consists of Psychiatric medications (mood stabilizers, antipsychotic medications and occasional antidepressants), Psychotherapy (cognitive behavioral therapy and family-focused therapy), Self-management strategies (education and early detection, Complementary health approaches (such as aerobic exercise, meditation, faith-based help).

Moodiness mostly takes will power and self-control to manage.  Bipolar Disorder is like any medical diagnosis and needs treatment.  It is no one’s fault.  It just is.

Claudia A. Liljegren, MSW, LICSW

St. Williams Mental Health Service

How to Talk to Your Parents About Long-Term Care

If your parents are over the age of 65, the odds are pretty good that they’ll need long-term care at some point in the future. Which is why it’s so important that you start preparing them for this possibility.

But it’s not always easy to talk to your elderly relatives about the future. If you go into the discussion unprepared, you can come out of it frustrated and without answers.

That’s where we can help. Keep reading to hear some of our best tips for how to talk to your parents about long-term care.

Do It Early

As your parents age, their health can take a turn any day. Start the process of planning for long-term care sooner rather than later. If you don’t, you may have to make these difficult decisions under stress from emergency medical or financial situations.

This is also important because you want your parents to play a big role in the decision-making process. And if you wait too long, you may have to deal with memory loss or other mental health issues. These health problems can prevent your parents from participating in this important process.

Make a List

Walk into the discussion with an organized plan. We suggest making a list of all the important points you wish to discuss with your loved ones. That way nothing gets left out.

Here are a few of the items you’ll probably want to have on your list.

  • Review existing assets, liabilities, and income.
  • Talk about how they will pay for long-term care with options like retirement funds, long-term care insurance, medicare, etc.
  • Discuss estate planning and obtaining updated documents like their will, power of attorney, trust agreements, and care directives.
  • Give them information about facilities that provide hospital care, rehabilitation, memory care, skilled nursing care, etc. And make a list of which facilities your parents prefer.
  • Discuss alternative options for when they can’t live on their own anymore, like assisted living, home health care, or moving in with relatives.

Because every family is different, your list might look different from this list. And you’ll probably need to have several discussions with them over time to check all the boxes.

Inform Them, But Let them Make the Decisions

Do plenty of research before you attempt to discuss long-term care with your parents. Print out what information you can or bring brochures or pamphlets to the table. This way your loved ones can read through the information and take their time making decisions.

Give them advice, but allow them to make their own decisions about long-term care. If they have control of the discussion, it will keep stress levels down for all parties involved.

It’s also important not to gang up on them regarding these sensitive topics. Choose one or two adult children to sit down with them. Involving more people will likely overwhelm them and lead to greater stress levels.

When in Doubt, Write to Them About Long-Term Care

Sometimes people react better to hard discussions if the information is written down. You might find it easier to include all the pertinent information in a letter or email. And your parents might have an easier time processing these decisions if they can read everything over slowly.

This is especially helpful if you live far away from your family. You can follow up on an email with a phone call to discuss further. A detailed email can also be a great way to guide the personal conversations you’ll have in the future.

At St. Williams Living Center, we offer a range of long-term care options for your loved ones. And our experienced staff is here to support you in planning for the future.

Visit our website to learn all about the services we offer. And always feel free to call us with questions. We are here to help!

Mental Health Awareness Week

Mental Illness Awareness Week takes place from October 6 – 12, 2019. This year, October 10 is World Mental Health Day and National Depression Screening Day.

The Mental Health Association is an organization that offers statistics, screenings and information on the primary diagnoses of mental health. 

  • Nearly 1 in 5 American adults will have a diagnosable mental health condition in any given year.
  • 46 percent of Americans will meet the criteria for a diagnosable mental health condition sometime in their life, and half of those people will develop conditions by the age of 14.

At, there are available screenings that will help you determine if you are having any mental health concerns:  These screenings suggest that:

  • 74%of people score positive or show moderate to severe signs of a mental health condition.
  • 78% of people are likely to have a substance use disorder.
  • 72% of people show signs of moderate to severe anxiety.

Many people do not seek treatment in the early stages of mental illnesses because they don’t recognize the symptoms.

The Mental Health Association reports 7 major mental health conditions, including Anxiety, Bipolar disorder, Psychosis, Eating disorders, Depression, PTSD, Addiction/Substance Use Disorder.  As October 10th of National Depression Screening Day, the Mental Health Association offers the following questions to ask yourself about depression:

 Do you experience:

  • A persistent sad, anxious or “empty” mood
  • Sleeping too little, early morning awakening, or sleeping too much
  • Reduced appetite and weight loss, or increased appetite and weight gain
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
  • Restlessness or irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Screenings are not a professional diagnosis. Screenings point out the presence or absence of depressive symptoms and provide a referral for further evaluation if needed. You should see your doctor or a qualified mental health professional if you experience five or more of these symptoms for longer than two weeks or if the symptoms are severe enough to interfere with your daily routine.

Claudia A. Liljegren, MSW, LICSW

Clinical Psychotherapist

Why You Need a Physical Therapist for Sports Injuries


As an athlete, this is one of the worst words you can hear. Nobody wants to be sidelined while their team goes on to win the big game.

But injuries are inevitable. And the more you play, the more you’ll encounter. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to speed up your recovery and help prevent injuries in the future.

In this article, we’ll tell you why you need a physical therapist for sports injuries.

PT Speeds Up Recovery

Trying to go it alone is one of the biggest mistakes you can make as a student athlete. All the Googling in the world won’t help you recover as fast as you can when you attend regular physical therapy

A physical therapist is specially trained to support recovery of sports injuries. They know the physical limitations that common sports injuries cause. And they can tailor your therapy routine to work through those limitations more effectively than you can do on your own.

If you need surgery for your injury, it’s vital that you get physical therapy afterward to keep your body in shape while you recover. Your therapist will help you stretch and build your muscles so you won’t lose any ground during recovery. 

One issue that athletes encounter when they’re recovering from injury is that they lose range of motion in their joints. When this happens, your body becomes stiff and unresponsive. Regular therapy sessions help keep your joints flexible so you can get back in the game as soon as your injury heals. 

PT Helps Prevent Future Injuries

PT sessions don’t just help you heal, they give you the tools you need to ensure the injury doesn’t happen again. Physical therapists work with you to provide exercises that strengthen your core as well as your limbs. A strong core is essential for preventing future injuries.

When you work on strengthening core muscles, you become more stable and balanced when you move. This increased stability helps you avoid falls which are a common cause of sports injuries. 

Working your core also improves your performance on the field or court. You’ll be more agile with stronger core muscles. And this agility means you can make quicker cuts and avoid more hits.

Regular stretching is another important part of injury prevention. Muscles are like rubber bands. If they aren’t flexible, they’re more likely to break when you overuse them. The only way to make them more flexible is to stretch them regularly. Your therapist will give you specific stretching exercises to do before and after every workout.

PT Isn’t Only About Exercise

We often think of PT as a place we go to stretch and strengthen. But there are many other aspects of PT. 

Physical therapists often use ice and heat treatments to reduce inflammation and improve range of motion. They also utilize massage therapy to help work out and soothe tightened muscles. These treatments also improve blood flow. And increased blood flow means faster healing of damaged tissue.

Your therapist may also recommend an ultrasound treatment or electrical stimulation. These treatments send high-frequency waves into the deep tissue of your muscles. This is another great way to improve blood flow. 

Need a Physical Therapist for Sports Injuries?

Did you know that St. William’s Outpatient Therapy Clinic serves clients of all ages? We have a new, state-of-the-art therapy room. Our therapists are experienced with orthopedic rehabilitation services. And we offer flexible hours to fit within your busy schedule as a student. 

You don’t even need a doctor’s note! Physical therapy is something you can do on your own. It’s a smart choice for any student athlete to recover faster and prevent future injuries.
So, what are you waiting for? Call our office today to schedule an appointment with one of our physical therapists.

Resilience or Defeat

We all go through life with bruises and scars as we are tackled with knocks along the way.   But, why is it that some people are more able to bounce back while others struggle to get off the floor?  Of course, it is a complicated issue, and likely is impacted by a number of variables.  For example, an individual’s coping is likely dependent on how frequent and severe the knocks have been, or if the struggles are dealt with along the way or instead are accumulated.   Individuals are also more vulnerable if the difficulties began in early childhood when reasoning and problem-solving were not yet developed and misinterpretation and personalization are instead the norm.  Our personality characteristics also play a role; for example, an individual who is more sensitive and takes things to heart may have more difficulty getting through struggles compared to those that are more indifferent.   

Regardless, none of us want to feel defeated by the blows we encounter.  With a defeatist attitude, we are more susceptible to depression and anxiety, bent towards negative thinking, face the future with skepticism, and oftentimes go through life being defensive and guarded rather than freer and more open to new experiences.   So, what is the catch? How can we be more resilient? 

According to an article authored by the American Psychological Association, there are 10 ways to help build resilience: 

  1. Having good relationships that are reciprocal.  Giving and receiving help goes a long way.
  2. Interpret problems as being manageable vs. insurmountable.  Consider them “bumps along the road” vs. unsurpassable mountains.
  3. Accept that change is a part of living; focus on the circumstances you can change and let go of what you cannot change.
  4. Develop and pursue realistic goals, regularly.  Move forward.
  5. Take decisive action on problems vs. avoiding them or wishing they would go away.
  6. Look for opportunities for self-discovery.  Realize the strengths you have gained while feeling vulnerable; such as improved relationships, elevated self-worth, increased spirituality, heightened appreciation for life.
  7. Develop confidence in your ability to solve problems and that you can build resilience.
  8. Keep things in perspective; see the forest and not the trees.  Avoid blowing things out of proportion.
  9. Maintain a hopeful outlook; expecting good things to happen in your life.  Focus on outcome rather than being stuck with worry and fear.
  10. Take care of yourself; it helps your mind and body better deal with situations that require resilience; exercise, eat right, engage in enjoyable activities, delight in nature.

There are many helpful ways to strengthen resilience not mentioned above, including meditation or spiritual practices, feeling humbled by viewing other people’s problems having it worse than your own, and helping others.  Whatever way helps build resilience, the more able to enjoy life, with struggles.  Let resilience vs. feeling defeated be your story.

Claudia A. Liljegren, MSW, LICSW

St. Williams Mental Health