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Musculoskeletal Therapy and Treatment

Virginia Mason Franciscan Health’s Center for Neurosciences & Spine offers specialized musculoskeletal services as part of our comprehensive physical medicine and rehabilitation. 

Our highly experienced doctors and physical and occupational therapists evaluate and treat patients with a wide variety of diagnoses. These include:

  • Neck pain
  • Back pain
  • Overuse disorders, such as tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Joint injuries to the knee, shoulder, ankle or arm
  • Headaches
  • Balance problems
  • Difficulties with walking

In partnership with other Virginia Mason Franciscan Health experts, our team also provides specialty care for body mechanics training, women’s health, surface electromyography (SEMG), and pelvic floor problems, such as incontinence.

Our therapists strongly believe education is key to the rehabilitation process. Education helps those we care for minimize pain and time lost from work and feel more empowered in the rehabilitation process.

The Spine Program

Virginia Mason Franciscan Health's Spine Program treats acute back pain right away with physical therapy. Our physiatrists focus on what may be limiting your ability to do your normal activities and develop a plan to help you become as functional as possible.


Osteoarthritis is the gradual loss of cartilage from joints. Cartilage is a cushion for your bones that allows them to glide smoothly when you move. Losing cartilage can cause pain and stiffness in your joints. Osteoarthritis worsens over time, but the pain and disability can be controlled.

Treatment for osteoarthritis

  • Treatment without medications includes physical therapy and exercise and devices to assist in everyday life (e.g., canes, walkers, raised toilet seats, well-cushioned shoes and orthotics).
  • Treatment with medications includes acetaminophen, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and steroid joint injections for pain flare-ups.
  • Joint replacement surgery is required in only a minority of patients with osteoarthritis and is based on the severity of arthritis seen on X-rays and pain and limitation of everyday activities.

Golf rehabilitation

Golf rehabilitation helps individuals with golf-related pain or pain due to injury or musculoskeletal conditions. Physical therapists pinpoint the factors that limit golf performance.

Specific exercise prescription addresses the underlying problems contributing to difficulties with golf swing movement sequence or timing such as poor coordination or decreased strength, endurance and flexibility.

Treatment is geared toward optimizing performance-we can help you get back "in the swing" and playing your best.

For more information, call 206-223-6746.

Clinic for Performing Artists

The Clinic for Performing Artists at Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle provides evaluation and treatment for the unique conditions performing artists face. Professionals, students and amateur artists experiencing performance difficulties because of musculoskeletal, neurologic, orthopedic, vocal, podiatric or psychological problems are welcome.

Our staff is composed of professionals in physical medicine and rehabilitation (including physical, occupational and speech therapy), sports medicine, orthopedic surgery, psychology, otolaryngology, podiatric medicine and neurology.

The practitioners have expertise in working with musicians, dancers, singers, actors, conductors and other artists. They work as a team to provide the best possible care and can draw on the expertise of the entire staff, if needed.

The program emphasizes:

  • Commitment to quality
  • Specialized care
  • Injury prevention
  • Maximizing function
  • Performance improvement

For voice care (singers, actors, speakers), call 206-223-6374 to schedule with Jaime Chang, MD  or Alison Hirst, MS, CCC-SLP, speech-language pathologist.

For musicians experiencing musculoskeletal pain, call 206-223-6746 to schedule with Johannes Van Buuren, PT, DPT, physical therapist.

For dancers experiencing musculoskeletal pain, call 206-341-3000 to schedule with Meta Chessin, MPT, physical therapist.

Vestibular rehabilitation

Vestibular rehabilitation is the most effective and efficient method to treat balance problems.

Vestibular disorders stem from problems with the inner ear, acoustic nerves, acoustic fluids, or other areas of the inner ear. Symptoms may include extreme dizziness, vomiting, vertigo, headaches, heavy pressure in the head, or difficulties with balance and/or walking.

Outpatient physical therapy has several physical therapists specifically trained to assist patients with vestibular disorders.

For more information, please call 206-223-6746 or 253-426-4400.

Community mobile resources

Driving and community mobility are activities of daily living that allow us to move about our respective environments with a high degree of independence. When this ability becomes threatened, so does our independence. We believe it's important to maintain safe levels of community mobility and maximize the sense of independence our patients feel.

Driving rehab programs

We also offer in-clinic screening measures completed by trained occupational therapy practitioners. These measures help you or your loved one determine whether independent driving is still safe as a form of community mobility. There may be alternatives available to driving. 

For more information, call 206-223-6746.