Comprehensive spine care for neck and back conditions

The spine is supported by the muscles, tendons, bones, nerves and other tissues that reach from your skull to your tailbone. Our spine plays a huge role in stability and mobility, and injuries or other conditions can cause painful symptoms. In fact, eight out of 10 Americans will experience back pain at some point in their lives. While about 90% of those cases will go away on their own, the rest will need specialized care to help them find relief.

HealthPartners has created TRIA Spine Care, a comprehensive program that brings together expert spine care services at Park Nicollet, TRIA and Regions Hospital. TRIA Spine Care provides a full spectrum of spine treatments, with a special focus on treating spine conditions without surgery.

Nonsurgical treatments, like physical therapy, are scientifically proven to be the best first course of treatment for many spine issues like lower back pain, pinched nerves and arthritis of the spine. Our team is made up of some of the top physical therapists in the Midwest. And if you need immediate care, we offer orthopedic urgent care where you can walk in and see an orthopedic doctor or a physical therapist the same day.

In the rare case that surgery is needed, you’re in expert hands. Our team of spine specialists includes pain management specialists, physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R) doctors, orthopedic spine surgeons and neurosurgeons who have helped thousands of patients recover. We’ll always guide you to the best treatment option to help you heal and get back to the things you love.

Spine conditions we treat
  • Acute neck and back injuries
  • Back pain, neck pain and thoracic pain
  • Brain and spine tumors
  • Chronic neck and back pain
  • Compression fracture of the spine
  • Curvature of the spine (Kyphosis)
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Facet joint disorder
  • Herniated disc (slipped disc)
  • Lower back pain
  • Muscle strain or weakness
  • Neck and back problems due to aging
  • Pinched nerve in the neck or back (Cervical radiculopathy)
  • Scoliosis
  • Spinal cord compression 
When to see a doctor for spine care

Back pain and other spine conditions are frustrating – they hurt, limit your mobility and make it hard to get through your day. If you’re dealing with a spine issue, you’re probably wondering when you should see a doctor.

In most cases, spine issues are acute. This means that it’s a short-term condition that lasts no longer than six weeks. Acute issues usually come on suddenly with symptoms like shooting, burning or aching pain. In these cases, at-home treatment is the best place to start.

If your spine condition hasn’t gotten better after six weeks, it’s likely that your condition is chronic and it’s time to see a doctor. There are many different types of spine specialists who can help you, including physical therapists, nonsurgical spine doctors, orthopedic doctors, and even neurosurgeons and spine surgeons.

Most people should make their first spine appointment with a physical therapist. Our physical therapists are experts in evaluating the spine and use exercise and hands-on care to manage even the most complex spine conditions.

Seeing a physical therapist first is proven to be more cost-effective by reducing the need for injections, imaging and medications. And, studies show that starting with a physical therapist can lead to better outcomes and patient satisfaction. You do not need a referral to make an appointment with a physical therapist.

However, if you are having certain symptoms or have a history of cancer, you should start with a medical spine doctor. These symptoms include:

  • Unexplained fever
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • New difficulty moving your arms or legs
  • Saddle anesthesia (numbness in the butt, thighs and groin)
Spine care services we offer Physical therapy for spine

Muscle deconditioning, sometimes called muscle atrophy, is one of the most common causes of chronic back pain. Muscle deconditioning happens when the muscles that support your spine lose strength and stability. This can cause painful wear and tear over time. And while some muscle deconditioning occurs naturally as we age, lack of physical activity is the biggest cause.

Strengthening your muscles can help relieve pressure and improve spinal support, and medical evidence shows that most spine conditions can be treated with spine physical therapy. You do not need a referral to make an appointment with a physical therapist.

Our physical therapists coach you through exercises tailored to your unique needs. These may include exercises and stretches that strengthen your neck, back and core muscles, as well as improve your flexibility and mobility. We also use hands-on care to support your recovery. And we’ll teach you how to do exercises on your own so you can continue to work on a home exercise plan to keep building strength between sessions.

It usually takes about six visits to complete your treatment plan, but many people start feeling relief from their first visit.

Our physical therapists are experts in evaluating spine conditions and identifying any symptoms that may need more advanced medical care. If we determine you need care beyond what we can provide, we’ll refer you to one of our spine specialists for further care.

TRIA Neck and Back Strengthening Program

The TRIA Neck and Back Strengthening Program is a specialized physical therapy program designed for people with recurrent, complex or chronic spine conditions. We use the only FDA registered medical strengthening equipment proven to help you improve your spinal fitness and reduce pain without surgery

This program is a good fit for you if you’ve had pain in your back or neck for more than six weeks, have experienced pain before, or have pain that causes symptoms in your arms, hands, legs or feet.

Nonsurgical treatment options for spine conditions

Nonsurgical treatments can be used as your main course of care or to complement a physical therapy plan. You’ll work closely with nonsurgical spine experts who specialize in pain management, and physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R). Our focus is to help you improve the way your body functions so you can do your daily activities and enjoy a better quality of life.

We offer a wide variety of nonsurgical treatment options, and we’ll work with you to determine which is best for your unique condition. Common nonsurgical treatments we use include anti-inflammatory medications, muscle relaxants, epidural steroid injections and several other treatments.

Nonsurgical treatment options are the cornerstone of spine treatment plans, and we’ll be by your side every step of the way as your spine health improves.

Integrative medicine

Integrative medicine is a type of holistic treatment that uses the body’s natural healing ability to relieve pain and accelerate recovery.

We offer many different types of integrative medicine that are scientifically proven to provide health benefits, including yoga therapy, acupuncture, pain management and living well consults. These types of treatments can be done alongside others to complement your care plan.

Interventional spine procedures

Interventional spine procedures are specialized, minimally invasive treatments for spine conditions. We use imaging technology to determine the exact location of the issue, enabling us to treat pain right at its source. This also means that we’re able to use a smaller incision, so you have a faster recovery time, lower risk of complications and less damage to the surrounding tissue.

Our spine experts perform several different types of interventional spine procedures, including facet joint injections, ablation procedures and spinal cord stimulation. Each patient is different, and we’ll work with you to find the best treatment for you.

Spinal surgery

When other courses of treatment aren’t improving your quality of life, we may recommend surgery. We provide a comprehensive range of surgeries, including laminectomies, microdiscectomies, disc arthroplasties and minimally invasive procedures.

In many cases, we perform surgeries in our outpatient ambulatory surgery center so our patients can go home the same day as their procedure. This makes recovery more comfortable and can be a more affordable option for our patients.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

No, you do not need a referral to make an appointment with a physical therapist. You can make an appointment directly with a physical therapist, even if they’re the first doctor you’re seeing for spine concerns.

However, some health insurance providers require a referral in order to cover physical therapy. If you’re not sure what your health insurance covers, please check with your plan. You can call the number on the back of your insurance card to get answers to your coverage questions. 

Scheduling your initial appointment with a physical therapist instead of a primary care doctor can help you save time and money. We’ve found that physical therapy is often the best course of treatment for spine conditions in most cases. And, studies have shown that seeing a physical therapist first can lead to better outcomes and patient satisfaction.  

Physical therapists perform a physical exam of your spine, similar to an exam done by primary care doctors or spine specialists. We’ll be able to diagnose your condition and guide you to the best treatments for you. Our physical therapists are able to treat a wide range of complex spine conditions, from the common to the chronic and complex.

We offer comprehensive treatments for spine conditions. Whether you’re struggling with low back pain, a herniated disc or something more complex, we’ll guide you toward the most effective treatment option.

If physical therapy isn’t the best treatment for your condition, we’ll refer you to another spine expert. Our physical therapists work closely with the other spine experts in our program, including orthopedic doctors and neurologists.

We often hear from patients that they’re worried they’ll need surgery to manage their back pain. At TRIA, we’ve learned that surgery is rarely the best treatment option. Instead, we focus on nonsurgical treatment options like physical therapy and hands-on care.

If surgery is needed, we’ll talk with you about your options and help you prepare.

If you still have questions, give us a call. Our CareLine℠ is a free phone service where you can talk to registered nurses.

Our nurses can help answer your questions about symptoms and discuss treatment options. They’re available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

You can reach us at 612-339-3663 or 800-551-0859.

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

You can check with your insurance to see if your plan covers part or all of the services needed. 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: