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You may meet different kinds of doctors and therapists for your back pain. Your needs will determine who you see. The goal is to relieve your pain, help you get back to your usual activities, and prevent future pain. Some of the types of care providers you may see are listed below.

Primary care doctor

Not all back pain is the same. Your primary care doctor will examine your back and ask you questions about it. This is the best way to understand your problem and determine the best treatment. Everyone is unique, so the kind of care you need may be different than someone else’s. Your doctor will see that you get the tests and see the professionals that are right for you so you can get back to your normal activities.

While you may want to make sure nothing is seriously wrong with your back, you probably don’t need an x-ray, MRI or CT scan. If your doctor thinks your pain is due to trauma or other medical conditions, he or she may order an imaging test.

You can expect your doctor to encourage you to resume all your usual activities as soon as possible. Your doctor may then ask you to schedule a follow-up visit to make sure you are recovering properly. Make sure to tell them if you are having a hard time returning to your usual activities. If your back does not improve with continued treatment, your doctor may recommend a pain medicine or give you a referral to a physical therapist or spine specialist. This specialist will help decide the next step in your care.

For help finding a doctor, use HealthPartners doctor search.

Physical therapist

A physical therapist may be the first person you see for back pain. They can help assure you that you have the type of injury that typically gets better with exercise and time. If you see a doctor first, the doctor may ask you to see a physical therapist for their help as well.

Physical therapists will talk to you about posture, activity and exercise. They will guide you with exercises to maintain your strength and flexibility as well as make suggestions for you about body mechanics (how to move your body). You’ll learn about bending, lifting, how to improve daily activity, and how to build your spinal and overall fitness.

To find a physical therapist that is right for you, consult your doctor.

Spine specialist

If your pain doesn't improve after initial treatment, your primary doctor may refer you to a spine specialist. Spine specialists can evaluate and assess your back problem, help you understand your options for managing pain (including both surgical and nonsurgical options), and connect you with resources to help you make decisions about care that is right for you.

If you have health insurance through HealthPartners, you'll need to see a Medical Spine Specialist before you visit a surgeon.

Back exercises

These exercises help stretch your back.

Pelvic tilt

Lie flat on your back, knees bent, feet flat on the floor, body relaxed. Tighten the abdominal muscles. Tilt the pelvis so the curve of the small of the back is flat on the floor. Hold 10 seconds, then relax. Continue to breathe.

Pelvic tilt image

Repeat 10 times, 3-4 times each day.

Knee raise

Lie flat on your back, knees bent. Bring one leg slowly to your chest as shown. Hug your knee gently, then return to the start position. Repeat the exercise with other leg.

Knee raise image

Repeat 5 times with each leg, 3-4 times each day.

Partial press-up

Lie face down on a firm surface. Rest for a few minutes, relaxing completely. Raise your upper body and rest on your elbows. Let your lower back relax toward the floor. Relax your legs as much as you can. Hold position for 5-10 seconds. Return to the starting position.

Partial press-up image

Repeat 5 to 10 times, 3-4 times each day.

How to use your benefits

Nurse Navigator is a free phone service. Member advocates can explain your benefits and treatment options. Call the Nurse Navigators from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday:

  • 952-883-5000
  • 800-883-2177
  • 952-883-5127 (TTY)

Talk about care options

The CareLine is a free phone service that’s staffed with registered nurses. The nurses can answer your questions and discuss treatment options. Call 24/7 for help:

  • 612-339-3663
  • 800-551-0859
  • 952-883-5474 (TYY)

Interactive tools

Dealing with stress
Learning to manage everyday stress can help you recover from back pain.

Getting active
Exercise and activity are keys to recovery.

Preventing pain

Need help managing or relieving pain? Download your free copy of the eBook from HealthPartners.

Download e-book

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