Back & Neck Pain Program

Treat chronic back and neck pain with the help of skilled physical therapists at Essentia Health. You’ll benefit from safe, effective therapy that improves flexibility and strength—leading to less stress on your spine.

When to See a Physical Therapist

Please use physical therapy if you:

  • Have ongoing back or neck pain
  • Avoid bending and lifting because it hurts
  • Are less active than you want to be because of your back or neck pain
  • Want to be stronger, more active, and more flexible

Physical therapy can help you reduce low back pain without medications or surgery. Benefit from innovative techniques and advanced rehabilitative equipment.

Medical Insight: Back Pain Video Transcript

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The Essentia Health logo appears, consisting of three leaves in a circle. Text, Essentia Health, Medical Insight.

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TRACY BRIGGS: Most

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A woman sits at a table, darkness outside the window. She holds her shoulders and moves her head around.

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people will experience back pain at some point in their life. For some, it won't last long or be severe. But for others, it can be debilitating and chronic. Much

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An older man kneels down near a sawhorse as a woman sitting on a stepstool looks at him. He struggles to stand up and the woman reaches to help him.

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of the time, back pain is caused by a strain, sprain, or tear of a muscle or ligament in the back. Back pain can also come from the normal aging process of disks in your spine.

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Animation of spine flashing gold in a drawing of a torso.

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If you have back pain, it's important to see your doctor to pinpoint the cause. Your doctor may refer you to physical therapy for your back pain.

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A therapist works with a woman doing movements.

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Essentia Health physical therapist Ashley Gunkelman works with patients who've been referred to therapy to relieve their back pain. She says there are a few common myths regarding how to treat it. Myth one is the belief that rest is always best. ASHLEY GUNKELMAN:

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Ashley Gunkelman, Essentia Health Physical Therapist, sitting in front of exercise machine.

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And actually the best thing to do is start to get back to your normal activities and early movement. I mean, research tells us that we heal faster that way. And that prevents loss of strength. When we start becoming weaker, those issues tend to become more chronic. And then, we have bigger issues. TRACY BRIGGS: Myth two is that disk bulges, or herniations, require surgery. Gunkelman says, with the proper therapy and time, the back can actually often heal itself through exercise, using ice to decrease inflammation, and heat to relax tight muscles.

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People doing push-ups, ice pack, heating pad.

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ASHLEY GUNKELMAN: I always tell my patients that the heat and the ice isn't going to alleviate your symptoms, but it helps calm things down, relaxes you, and allows you to move a little bit more easily. TRACY BRIGGS: Myth three is that you need imaging to diagnose and treat back pain. Whether it's an MRI or a CT scan, Gunkelman says it's often not necessary.

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Providers look at X-rays.

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ASHLEY GUNKELMAN: There's so many different soft tissue in the back. You know, we're talking bones, ligaments, muscles. It's actually hard to specifically diagnose what's going on with that imaging. TRACY BRIGGS:

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Tracy Briggs, Essentia Health Medical Insight Host, next to monitor showing man leaning forward with his hand on his back.

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So while back pain is likely to happen to you sometime in your life, there are things you can do to manage it and improve your quality of life. With this Essentia Health "Medical Insight," I'm Tracy Briggs.

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The Essentia Health logo appears, consisting of three leaves in a circle. Text, Essentia Health, Medical Insight

SpineX™ Rehab Program

Restore spine strength and improve your ability to move with Essentia’s SpineX ™ Rehab Program. This eight-week program is available at locations in Northern Minnesota and Fargo, North Dakota. Two times a week you’ll meet with an Essentia professional for 90 minutes of stretching and strengthening.

If you're in Duluth, at completion, you’ll get a free three-month membership to an Essentia fitness center so you can continue working toward your goals.

Cost & Insurance

Many insurance providers cover spine rehabilitation programs. Check with your insurance provider about what’s covered under your plan.

Enroll in SpineX

Call for more information:

  • In Duluth, Minnesota, call 218-786-5410
  • In Hibbing, Minnesota, and the Iron Range, call 218-263-1028
  • In Fargo, North Dakota, call 701-364-3000

Reduce Back Pain with Core Strength

Rehabilitation: Reduce Back Pain with Core Strength Video Transcript

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Text, How core strengthening helps with back pain. Essentia Health.

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JACKIE BERGLUND: My name is Jackie Berglund. I'm a nurse practitioner in the pain clinic in Fargo at the 32nd Avenue clinic. I explain it to patients that the spine is really the only bone in your back that helps kind of support the front half and kind of the upper trunk of the body. So if the abdominal muscles of the core is strong, then those muscles are really helping take some of the workload off of your spine. You're engaging your abs and using your ab muscles, your core muscles more for doing simple movements, like bending over to tie your shoes, bending over to put your socks on, leaning over to pick something up. You use your core muscles, your strong core muscles doing that. So that takes more of the workload off of the low back.

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