Back Pain

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Back pain is one of the most common reasons for primary care visits. Most people at some point in their lives will experience some form of back pain. Back pain can be mild or severe, pass quickly or last long enough to significantly impact your quality of life. 

At the University of Michigan Health System, we have treatments for all forms of back pain—whether your condition is acute, chronic, congenital or the result of a trauma. Our health care team works collaboratively to quickly diagnose your condition and provide you with the treatment—and relief—you need.

Our goal is to alleviate your back pain—and to help you maintain your new back health.

Conditions We Treat

We treat many simple and complex back conditions, including:

  • Cervical degenerative disease
  • Compression fractures
  • Facet joint syndrome
  • Failed back syndromes
  • Herniated disc
  • Lumbar degenerative disc disease
  • Lumbar spinal stenosis
  • Lumbar strain
  • Sacroiliac joint pain 
  • Scarred nerves
  • Sciatica (radiculopathy)
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Vertebral body compression fractures


Depending upon the medical condition, typical back pain symptoms may include:

  • Muscle ache
  • Shooting or stabbing pain
  • Pain that radiates down your leg
  • Limited flexibility or range of motion 
  • Inability to stand up straight 
  • Numbness, tingling or weakness in the legs
  • Difficulty walking
  • Difficulty with balance or coordination


To diagnose the source of back pain, we will take a medical history and conduct a medical exam. Based on our findings, we may use the following diagnostic tools:

  • Imaging, such as X-rays, CT scans or an MRI 

To obtain more information, we may need: 

  • An EMG (electromyogram) – a test that checks the health of the muscles and the nerves that control the muscles
  • A bone scan 
  • A bone density test 


Treatment for back pain will depend upon the cause and severity of the condition, your age, and whether or not you have additional health issues. At the University of Michigan Health System, we have many treatments we can offer our patients. 

Non-Surgical Treatments

  • Cervical epidural steroid injection
  • Discography
  • Epidural steroid injection via multiple approaches 
  • Facet joint injection of the neck and lower back
  • Medial branch blocks and radiofrequency ablation of the medial branch nerves
  • Medications 
  • Physical medicine such as physical therapy and/or occupational therapy , braces, chiropractic or manipulation therapy, traction and other exercise-based programs
  • Sacroiliac joint steroid injection

Surgical Treatments

Surgery may be recommended if your condition is severe, your pain has worsened and/or you have had no relief from non-surgical treatment. 

  • Dekompressor discectomy
  • Intrathecal pump implant 
  • Kyphoplasty/vertebroplasty
  • Lumbar disc microsurgery
  • Minimally Invasive Lumbar Decompression – MILD
  • Spinal cord stimulator implant
  • Total disc replacement

Contact Us

You're about to make an important decision, and we want to help you make a good one. Our staff will be glad to talk with you about your options and how we can help. Please visit our Make an Appointment page for more information.