Back pain diagnosis and treatment is often more complex than many other medical conditions, and continuing advances in the field are making it even more complex. As such, there is a wide variety of health practitioners who diagnosis and treat back pain and spinal conditions, each with different training, experience and viewpoints on the subject. This article reviews how these specialists often work together as part of an integrated spine clinic, with the goal of more effectively and efficiently treating patients with back pain.

There are far too many causes of back pain and neck pain and far too many treatments available for any one field of practice to have all the answers. No single type of physician treats all types of back pain, neck pain or other musculoskeletal conditions. For example:

  • There are some types of back pain that respond better to manual treatments (such as chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation or physical therapy) or to medical treatments (such as injections or medications).
  • Sometimes, with sustained and/or severe back pain, neck pain or leg pain, surgery is the best option to get better quicker.
  • It is quite common for a back pain patient to first consult with one type of physician and get referred to another.
  • It is also common for a patient to find that trial and error is needed to figure out what treatment works best for his or her situation, or that a combination of treatments is the best approach.

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Moreover, there is rapid development and significant advances in back pain diagnosis and treatments in all areas. While these advancements provide many benefits for patients, they also significantly increase the variety, complexity and technical considerations for treatment approaches.

Because of the complexity of back pain and the variety of health professionals who treat it, the trend toward integrated spine care has accelerated. More physicians and other health professionals are getting together to create integrated spine clinics with the goal of working with each other to more effectively diagnose and treat patients with back pain or neck pain.

The trend toward integrated care for spinal conditions is also taking place on a more general level. Some of the major spine specialty societies have integrated practitioners from many fields into their meeting and leadership. The largest spine society, the North American Spine Society (NASS) is a multidisciplinary organization that advances quality spine care through education, research and advocacy. NASS has grown rapidly and currently has over 5,000 members (source:

Find an integrated clinic in the Spine-health Spine Doctor Directory.


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