James Gruft, MD, FAAPMR, DABPM

CEO & Founder

Dr. James Gruft is a renowned pain management specialist, highly regarded by peers and patients alike. With board certifications in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM & R) and Pain Medicine (DABPM), he brings a wealth of expertise to his practice. Dr. Gruft’s dedication to excellence has been consistently recognized, earning him the title of “Best Doctor” in nationwide surveys since 2002.

His journey in medicine began at George Washington University School of Medicine, followed by a residency at Columbia University’s Presbyterian Hospital in New York City. Dr. Gruft’s commitment to patient care led him to establish his own practice, From Pain To Wellness LLC.

Beyond his clinical work, Dr. Gruft is actively involved in medical education as an Assistant Professor at Rush Medical College. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and holds diplomatic status with the American Board of Pain Medicine. Additionally, Dr. Gruft maintains membership in esteemed medical organizations such as the American Congress of Rehabilitation, Illinois Society of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, and the American Pain Society. His contributions to the field of pain management have solidified his reputation as one of the premier specialists in the country.

Stacie Wharton

Physician Assistant

Stacie Wharton, PA, is a nationally certified physician assistant offering patient-centered care at From Pain To Wellness LLC, in Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois. She strives to help patients find relief from their chronic pain and lead healthier, more active lives.

Stacies completed her Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences at Aurora University in Illinois. She then earned her physician assistant certificate from Malcolm X College in Chicago and her Masters of Medical Science in Physician Assistant Studies from St. Francis University. She is board-certified by the National Commission for Certification of Physician Assistants.

In her work as a physician assistant, Stacie collaborates closely with Dr. Gruft and the team at From Pain To Wellness LLC in the treatment and evaluation of many pain conditions. Her expertise in pain conditions includes the treatment of back pain, neck pain, neuropathy, fibromyalgia, and chronic pain syndrome. Stacie is dedicated to providing quality and compassionate care to her patients.

Cristina Gonzalez

Nurse Practitioner

Cristina Gonzalez is a board-certified family nurse practitioner who works closely with Dr. Gruft to provide comprehensive, holistic, and individualized care to the pain management patients at From Pain to Wellness. Cristina obtained her Bachelor of Science degree at Marquette University before advancing her education and completing her Master of Science in Nursing and Doctor of Nursing Practice degrees at Rush University. She has previous clinical experience in Emergency Medicine and Orthopedics. Cristina is dedicated to providing compassionate care to all of her patients in pain.

Dr. Karina Kennedy

Physical Therapist & PT Dept. Manager

Dr. Karina Kennedy is a graduate from Midwestern University where she attained her Doctorate in Physical Therapy. She received her BS in kinesiology and minor in Spanish at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

She is passionate about creating comprehensive treatment plans that incorporate evidence based research interventions with a positive and motivational attitude to ensure optimal patient care.

Dr. Kennedy practices the McKenzie Method of Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy, is a certified provider in the Graston Technique, a form of instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization, and also practices many other forms of physical therapy treatment.

She believes in working together with her patients to establish the best method of treatment that will suit their individual needs and goals. Dr. Kennedy’s method of evaluation and treatment allows her to provide superior care for patients experiencing both chronic and acute medical conditions.

Karen Hendrickson

Physical Therapist

Karen Hendrickson, PT graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a Bachelor of Science in Physical Medicine and later earned her Masters in Education at NIU. She has worked in physical therapy for more than 45 years specializing in the treatment of chronic pain. Specialties include manual therapy, visceral and nerve mobilization, craniosacral therapy, MFR, taping and instruction of pain management techniques for improved patient care.

Jizelle Dimalanta

Physical Therapist

Jizelle Dimalanta has worked in physical therapy for many years. She believes in compassionate patient care and is dedicated to creating comprehensive treatment plans that incorporate evidence based research interventions with a positive and kind attitude to ensure optimal patient care.

Margie Kuchan

Physical Therapist Assistant

Margaret Kuchan, PTA has been a practicing Massage Therapist for 25 years. She returned to school and completed her Physical Therapist Assistant degree in 2011. She has additional training in The Total Control Program because of her interest in women’s health issues. She is also trained in the Classic Pilates Method.

Dr. Esther Kaplan


Dr. Esther Kaplan is a licensed clinical pain psychologist. She is trained in various forms of feedback, relaxation therapy, and counseling. Her approach is geared toward improving an individual’s ability to cope with pain and stress, improving mood and thinking habits. Dr. Kaplan is a compassionate and kind psychologist.