Man stretching before a run

Spine care

Spine care in Minnesota

Whether the pain in your spine is recent or you are dealing with pain from an old injury, understanding the cause and getting you the right care is our top priority. We want to help you get back to doing the things you enjoy.

Finding answers and reducing your fears

There are many people like you who just want to know why the pain in their neck, back or spine just won’t go away. Why is there numbness, weakness, tingling or electric shocks in the arms, hands, legs or feet that come with the spine pain? For most people, these symptoms are due to the spine gradually wearing out like how other joints in the body wear out (the knees, wrists, hips, etc.). The spine is the longest set of joints in your body and undergoes arthritis like other joints.

At HealthPartners and Park Nicollet, we are committed to answering your questions and getting you back to what you love as quickly as possible. We will match you with the right specialist and create a treatment plan that makes sense. Most people will get better without surgery. But if it’s needed, we’ll connect you with one of our trusted board-certified surgeons. We work hard to deliver on your expectations and get it right.

Spine conditions we treat

  • Back pain, neck pain, and thoracic pain (the spine in between the neck and back)
  • Spinal nerve pain: head, face, shoulders, arms, hands, buttocks, hips, legs, feet
  • Various forms of a worn-out spine disc: slipped disc, cracked disc, dry disc
  • Muscle strain or weakness
  • Curvature and other alignment problems of the spine
  • Broken spine bones (as the result of trauma)
  • Abnormal growths of the spine (non-cancer and cancer)
  • Abnormal blood vessels of the spine
  • Spine problems due to aging
  • Sports injuries of the spine

Symptoms of spine conditions

Symptoms of a spine condition are more than a sudden ache in your back. While everyone experiences slightly different symptoms, common symptoms of a spine condition include:

  • Persistent dull pain or ache in the back or neck
  • Persistent stiffness or tightness in the back, neck or shoulders
  • Pain that spreads to the arms or legs
  • Sharp or stabbing pain in the back or neck
  • Unexplained muscle weakness or numbness in the arms or legs
  • Abnormal posture, such as forward tilting of the spine or forward bending of the neck

Diagnosing spine conditions

Diagnosing a spine condition commonly begins with a physical exam. During the physical exam, we’ll listen to your symptoms, take a medical history and examine the part of your body causing you pain. Occasionally, additional tests may be needed to confirm your diagnosis. Common tests include:

Imaging tests

If additional tests are needed, imaging tests are the most common. This is a type of non-invasive test that uses radio waves, magnetic fields and small amounts of radiation to create a picture of the inside of your body. Common types of imaging tests include X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans and computed tomography (CT) scans.

Spine treatment

Our experienced specialists will work with you to develop a treatment plan that is personalized to your needs. In many cases, therapy and activity can solve your spine problem without the need for surgery.

Our first goal is to help you heal without surgery, but if it’s necessary, we work closely with our top spine surgeons and rehabilitation teams to provide you with all levels of spine care.

Rehabilitation for back and neck pain

Active therapy is commonly used to treat a variety of spine conditions including back pain and muscle strain.

Rehabilitation focuses on using exercise and other techniques to improve how your body functions and relieve pain. Leveraging our advanced rehabilitation facilities, we can work with you to create a plan that fits your ability and fitness level.

It’s common for rehabilitation programs to include a combination of:

Strengthening exercises

A doctor or physical therapist will guide you through exercises that target the muscles in your back, shoulders, core or other muscle groups. By strengthening the muscles that support your spine, your back or neck pain might be alleviated.

Mobility and flexibility exercises

It’s common for your body to produce scar tissue after a spine injury that reduces your mobility and causes pain. We’ll guide you through targeted stretches that can help improve your range of motion and release tense muscles that are causing pain.

Interventional spine procedures

Every patient is different, and we work hard to find the treatment that will work for you. For some patients, interventional spine procedures may be used to treat and manage back pain and spine conditions. They include:

  • Epidural steroids
  • Facet joint injections
  • Ablation procedures
  • Spinal cord stimulation

Spine surgery

If surgery is recommended as a part of your treatment plan, you’re in excellent hands. Our surgical specialists are skilled in all types of spine surgery, from minimally invasive procedures to complex surgeries. Our state-of-the-art operating rooms are equipped with the latest technology, including C-arm, intraoperative MRI, computer-guided surgery and more.

Before surgery, we’ll explain everything you need to know in a way that’s easy to understand. We’re here to answer questions, help you prepare ahead of time and plan your recovery.

After surgery, your recovery is our first priority. If needed, you’ll regain mobility with the help of our onsite rehabilitation facility and outpatient clinics so you can return to function and get back to living your life.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

We have a variety of doctors who can help treat neck and back pain. Depending on what’s causing your back pain, one or a team of the specialists below may be involved in your treatment.

If this is your first time getting help for back pain, we recommend starting with a visit to one of our primary care doctors. They are experts at diagnosing hundreds of conditions and can help get you answers and connect you directly to any of the following specialists if needed.

Physical therapist – Our physical therapists are experts in using movement and activity to treat spine conditions. They use manual techniques and active therapeutic exercises to ensure proper spinal function.

PM&R doctor – Our physical medicine and rehabilitation doctors specialize in treating various conditions, including those that might affect your spine through physician-directed rehabilitation.

Pain specialist – We have a team of doctors who specialize in treating painin all parts of the body. Depending on your spine condition, they might be involved in helping you lessen pain through a variety of treatment methods.

Most spinal conditions can be treated with rehabilitation and other non-surgical options. We’ll work with you to create a personalized treatment plan that addresses the cause of your pain and fits into your lifestyle. If you’ve tried a number of non-surgical treatments without relief, and surgery is recommended to treat your condition, our team of specialists will answer all your questions, let you know what to expect and help prepare you for surgery.

We accept most health insurance plans, including Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, CIGNA, HealthPartners, Medica, Medicare, PreferredOne and many others.

Not sure what your insurance covers? Call the number on the back of your card for help looking at your options.

Don’t have your card in front of you? Here are member services numbers to help you get started: