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Nels D. Leafblad, MD

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Orthopedic Surgery, Board Eligible Sports Medicine Fellowship

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Areas of Focus

Sports Medicine
Knee Care
Hip Care
Shoulder & Elbow Care
Pediatric Care
Foot & Ankle Care
Hand & Wrist Care

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Practice Overview

Dr. Nels Leafblad is a fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine and arthroscopic surgery, as well as knee, hip, and shoulder replacement. His special interests include hip arthroscopy as well as knee, hip, and shoulder joint preservation including management of complex ligament injuries, meniscus tears, rotator cuff injuries, cartilage injuries, and labral tears. He offers assessment and diagnostic care for a wide range of musculoskeletal conditions as well as activity-related sports injuries.

Dr. Leafblad is a Minnesota native and graduated summa cum laude from Bethel University, where he played baseball and started a band. He completed medical school at the University of Minnesota and his orthopedic surgery residency at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. He then completed a fellowship in sports medicine at the University of Utah, where he was an assistant team physician for the Utah Jazz (NBA), the University of Utah Utes Football (NCAA Div. I), and Real Salt Lake (MLS). He practices at Twin Cities Orthopedics clinics in Stillwater and Vadnais Heights. He performs surgery in Lake Elmo, Stillwater, and Woodbury.

Outside of work, Dr. Leafblad loves spending time with his wife and children. He enjoys everything the outdoors has to offer, particularly downhill skiing, fishing, hunting, golfing, and hiking. He is also a musician and went to Hollywood as a contestant on American Idol prior to his medical training. He has produced two albums of original music and continues to write music of his own. He has a passion for serving communities both locally and abroad. He has done both medical and faith-based missions in India, Ukraine, and Uganda, and plans to continue doing these in the future alongside his family.

Clinical Interest

Elbow care, including athlete, ligament, tendon, cartilage, and traumatic injuries, ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction (Tommy John surgery), osteochondritis dissecans (OCD) treatment, and biceps and triceps tendon repair

Hip care, including femoroacetabular impingement (FAI) with labral tears, proximal hamstring tendon injuries, hip arthritis, hip arthroscopy for (FAI) and labrum tears, and total hip replacements

Knee care, including ACL injuries, multi-ligamentous knee injuries, meniscus injuries, patellar instability, cartilage injuries, quadriceps and patellar tendon injuries and knee osteoarthritis. Procedures include knee ligament reconstruction (including ACL reconstruction), articular cartilage repair and transplant, meniscus surgery, and total knee replacement

Sports medicine, including non-surgical and surgical treatment of a broad range of sports injuries in athletes of all ages

Shoulder care, including shoulder instability/labral injuries, rotator cuff tears, arthritis, total and reverse shoulder arthroplasty, shoulder arthroscopy, rotator cuff repair, treatment of shoulder instability/labral repair, ligament reconstructions, and treatment of SLAP tears

Pediatric care, including treatment of upper and lower extremity sprains/strains, sport injuries, and common fracture care

Fracture care, including treatment of common orthopedic fractures


Board Eligible, American Board of Orthopedic Surgery

University of Utah Orthopedic Sports Medicine Fellowship, Salt Lake City, UT

Mayo Clinic Orthopedic Surgery Residency, Rochester, MN

Medical Degree
The University of Minnesota Medical School, Minneapolis, MN

Hospital & Surgery Center Affiliations

High Pointe Surgery Center
Lakeview Hospital
Woodwinds Hospital

Professional Affiliations

American Orthopaedics Society of Sports Medicine, Resident/Fellow Membership
Arthroscopy Association of North America, Resident/Fellow Membership

Achievements & Awards

Mayo Clinic Orthopedic Surgery Trauma Resident of the Year (2020-2021)
Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society (2015)
Gold Humanism Honor Society (2015)
Eben J Carey Award in Anatomy (2013)
UMN Medical School: 1st and 2nd Year Honors (2013-14)

Sports Affiliations

Head team physician, Mahtomedi High School (2022-Present)
Assistant team physician, Utah Jazz (NBA, 2021-2022)
Assistant team physician, University of Utah Utes Football (NCAA Div. I, 2021-2022)
Assistant team physician,Real Salt Lake (MLS, 2021-2022)


Sarah S., MEd, ATC, ATR
Clinical Assistant

Patient Testimonials

July 7, 2023

Richard C.

I needed help with my left shoulder that had a failed first replacement. I was in a lot of pain and had lessened flexibility. Dr. Leafblad replaced the bad joint with a new reverse joint. The operation was just great. I have no pain now and the shoulder has all of the flexibility, motion, and utility I hoped for.

June 30, 2023

Carol O.

In April 2023 I fell at the gym, landing on my right hip and was in terrible pain. My husband took me to TCO Urgent Care in Vadnais Heights. I was seen right away and X-rays showed a hip fracture. The staff worked hard to find an operating room available for emergency surgery and I was told that Dr. Leafblad would do my surgery the next morning at Hudson Hospital. He talked to me on the phone, explaining the surgery, and after talking to him I felt relieved that there was a good plan in place. We went to the hospital and met him the next morning before surgery. The surgery went well and I have been following up with him at two, six, and twelve weeks post-op. I will see him two more times. Dr. Leafblad is a wonderful doctor and it’s obvious he cares about how I’m recovering from my injury. I can’t say enough good things about Dr. Leafblad, his staff, and TCO.

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