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Back pain can come and go. Or it might stick around. Either way, it can stop you in your tracks.

Your back can start aching, throbbing or burning for many reasons. Muscle strains. Disk problems. Nerve damage. Kidney stones. Arthritis. Even pregnancy. No matter what triggers your back pain or where it is, one thing’s certain — it needs to go away.

Cleveland Clinic can help. Our spine health experts uncover where your pain starts, pinpoint what’s causing it and plan the best ways to treat it. From common to complex back pain, we can help you get back on your feet and start enjoying life again.

Why Choose Cleveland Clinic for Back Pain Care?

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Caring approach:

Back pain can derail your life and put your plans on hold. And it hurts. A lot. We know you probably aren’t feeling your best, physically or emotionally, when you come to us for treatment. That’s why we make sure the “whole you” gets the support you need, throughout treatment, recovery and beyond.

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Skilled collaborative providers:

Back pain affects more than your spinal cord. Nerves, muscles and other soft tissues all play a role in what’s going on. That’s why we focus on your diagnosis when we build your care team. Providers from different specialties — like physiatry, neurosurgery, orthopaedic surgery, pain management and physical therapy — work together to plan and manage your care.

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Comprehensive care:

Many people have back pain. It can range from the most common reasons to more complex ones. Our experts use the latest tools and therapies to diagnose and treat your pain — often, without surgery. We’re here to help you move better and get the best possible results.

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Innovation and research:

The more we know about back pain, the better we can treat it. Cleveland Clinic’s research and clinical trials play a major part in moving our medical knowledge and patient care forward into the future. We test new drugs, surgery techniques and other treatments before they’re widely available.

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Virtual visits:

Sometimes you may not feel up to going to an in-person follow-up. And that’s OK. You can get the same great care from your providers when you connect through virtual visits. All you need is an internet connection and a smartphone, tablet or computer to get started.

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National recognition:

Cleveland Clinic is a trusted healthcare leader. We're recognized in the U.S. and throughout the world for our expertise and care.

Evaluating Back Pain at Cleveland Clinic

Nobody’s back pain is the same. And the reasons for it aren’t, either. You might get sudden low back pain that started when you moved the sofa. Or maybe you’ve had an ache in your upper back that won’t let up. It lingers on and on — but you don’t know why.

Some conditions that cause back pain

Acute mechanical back pain is common. It starts in your lower back and can travel to your buttocks and thighs. Degenerative disk disease, sprains and strains and pinched nerves can also cause your back to hurt. So can kidney stones, neck pain and sciatica. But back pain is a symptom of many different conditions, including:

It’s important to work with spine health providers experienced in diagnosing, treating and managing these and other back problems.

What to expect at your first visit

When you come to Cleveland Clinic for the first time, our team will spend time learning more about your condition. You can expect your providers to ask a lot of questions about your symptoms, pain level and how long things have been going on. This information helps your care team start learning what’s causing your pain.

You’ll also have a physical exam so your provider can check out how well your spine moves. They’ll also look for painful areas. Depending on what they learn, they may be able to start treatment right away. For chronic pain, you may need some imaging tests like an MRIX-rays or a CT scan so our team can get a better look at your spine.

Meet Our Back Pain Team

We believe teamwork delivers the most personalized care and the best possible results. We build your care team around your unique needs and diagnosis with providers like:


Our healthcare providers see patients at convenient locations throughout Northeast Ohio and Florida.

Treating Back Pain at Cleveland Clinic

Some pain might go away on its own. Other types will go away with a short treatment plan. Some chronic conditions may require regular management. Your treatment plan depends on your back pain and what’s causing it. We try to avoid surgery whenever possible, turning to it when other treatments aren’t as effective as we hoped. You may have:

Home treatment

You may be able to treat your pain at home under your provider’s supervision. Using cold packs, heating pads and over the counter or prescription medications can supply relief. Doing stretching and strength-building exercises can also help. So can yoga.

You’ll check in regularly with your provider at virtual or in-person follow-up appointments to talk about your progress and next steps.

Physical therapy

Physical therapy takes home exercise to the next level. You may even do it along with other home-based treatments. Our experienced physical therapists will evaluate your pain and how well your muscles and back work and move (range of motion). They then build a treatment plan around this. You’ll learn flexibility and strengthening exercises. You may also get massage and myofascial release, heat or cold therapy, hydrotherapy or even transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS).

Interventional Treatments

If home treatments and physical therapy aren’t enough to control your back pain, and it remains persistent and disabling, we may recommend one of the latest interventional treatments, like:


Whenever possible, we try to do minimally invasive spine surgery. It has a lot of benefits over open surgery with a large incision (cut), like less muscle damage and pain after surgery. And hospital stays and recovery times are usually shorter. Some spinal fusion surgeries can be minimally invasive. So can a laminectomy, a type of spinal decompression surgery.

You can go home after some back surgeries but need to stay in the hospital after others. It depends on what’s causing your pain and the kind of surgery you need (open or minimally invasive). During recovery, you’ll often do physical therapy to build up your strength and range of motion.

Your care team will go over all surgery options and what to expect before you ever go into an operating room.

Taking the Next Step

You don’t have to live with back pain, no matter how minor or excruciating it may be. There are many ways to treat it. And surgery isn’t always the first step. Cleveland Clinic’s spine experts can find out what’s causing your pain and recommend the best way to treat yours. We’re here to help you move past your back problems and get back to being as active as possible.

Getting an appointment with Cleveland Clinic’s back pain experts is easy. We’re here to help you get the care you need.


Getting an appointment with Cleveland Clinic’s back pain experts is easy. We’re here to help you get the care you need.

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