Back pain is a common medical condition that affects many people. For most, it is a minor problem that only lasts a few days, but for others, back pain becomes chronic and subsequently affects many parts of their life. It can also be difficult to treat, and the same care plan doesn’t work for everyone. That’s why, at the UPMC Program for Spine Health, we take a different approach to back care.
With a doctor referral (typically from a primary care physician or surgeon), our team takes a patient-centered approach to care for individuals with low back pain and other spine issues.
By way of non-operative consultations and treatments, we empower our patients and help them find their purpose. We help people understand the nature of their problem and promote meaningful activity and movement to help alleviate pain, improve function, and foster growth in overall health and well-being. Our holistic approach means that we take the entire patient into account, considering their:
We offer comprehensive care including specialty medical care, physical therapy, psychological and nutritional counseling, and personal coaching to improve overall quality of life. Our experienced team has developed an approach that doesn’t just focus on pain, but puts health first and equips you with the tools to improve beyond our program, so that you can get back to your life.
Our team of experts includes:
Once your doctor refers you to the UPMC Program for Spine Health, one of our nurse coordinators will contact you, ask you a few questions, and create a care plan tailored to your needs. We will work with you to set goals to improve your quality of life by decreasing pain and increasing your ability to move.
Most patients will first see a “primary spine provider,” who is a physical therapist specializing in spine care. Other specialists may be needed as well, including doctors who are experts in treating back problems without surgery and addressing chronic pain. Behavioral health therapists can assist with lifestyle choices and overcoming challenges with mental health and diet coaches can help implement desirable behaviors and nutrition choices. Additional specialists will be offered through UPMC if needed. The goal of our care team is to give you the tools you need to help you manage your pain and build a healthier life.
The patients in the following testimonials have asked to remain anonymous.
After being referred to the program by her physician in 2019, CF spoke with our team at the UPMC Program for Spine Health a day later and expressed that she had tried physical therapy, injections, steroids, and surgery in the past to try to help her back pain, but nothing had worked. Given her difficulty finding relief, CF met with PM&R physician Christopher John Standaert, MD. Leaving her first appointment relieved and teary-eyed, CF said, “I’m so happy that someone has finally listened to me and feel like there’s hope now to help my back pain.”
As she continued sessions with our physical therapist, pain psychologist, and dietitian, she became more aware of how her back pain affected her overall health. She fully engaged in her care, learned our strategies, and became motivated to feel better. After moving more easily, experiencing less pain, and finding more energy within herself, CF became independent again and continues to practice positive lifestyle changes by using the skills she learned to stay active and healthy.
After trying several methods to alleviate her back pain, and being unable to find something that worked, MH visited the UPMC Program for Spine Health with a referral from her doctor in early 2020. Upon arrival, she filled out a few questionnaires that are repeated throughout the program to track each patient’s progress toward their goals. As our program prides itself on using motivational interviewing techniques and active listening, identifying appropriate resources for each patient, and making clear how much we care about their health, MH left her first appointment feeling hopeful for the first time in a long time.
“My goal of travelling to New Orleans for Mardi Gras actually seems attainable now,” she expressed (a goal that she did in fact meet). MH met both in person and virtually with her physical therapist and health coach, losing about ten pounds in eight weeks and finding herself well on her way to achieving the healthy overall lifestyle she needed to help relieve her back pain. Today, she continues to practice what she learned to stay energized, motivated, and positive in a life with much less pain.
RC, an active 44-year-old male, developed sudden back pain during the summer of 2018. Caught off guard, RC initially visited an emergency department and later saw a chiropractor and orthopaedic surgeon, tried prescribed injections and opioids, and experienced no permanent relief. After a consultation with the orthopaedic surgeon nearly a year after his initial pain, she referred him to our team at the UPMC Program for Spine Health. Together with Dr. Standaert, director of our program, RC decided that physical therapy with our primary spine provider physical therapist would be best.
RC shared, “I was initially afraid that any movement would cause me more pain, but I quickly developed trust and began making progress. Then I could really see the possibility of playing golf again.” Throughout the program, RC was supported by telemedicine appointments with the pain psychologist and was able to identify anxiety associated with his pain, set realistic goals, focus on acknowledging accomplishments, and decrease negative and self-critical thinking. He also worked with the health coach to develop a plan to increase and maintain his level of activity while prioritizing his spine health. While RC described his back pain as a 9.33/10 in September 2019 when he arrived for his first appointment, he reported a 1.66/10 in June 2020 at his last visit. RC has been enjoying golf ever since and can now carry out what he learned on his own.
Most patients come to the UPMC Program for Spine Health by referral from a primary care physician, orthopaedic surgeon, or other health care provider.
Please contact us at 412-219-0386 to refer a patient to either of our two locations.
For more provider information, please visit UPMC Physician Resources online.
UPMC Outpatient Center Hampton
3rd Floor, Suite 3100
4490 Mount Royal Blvd.
Allison Park, PA 15101
UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex
8000 Cranberry Springs Drive
Cranberry Township, PA 16066
To reach the UPMC Program for Spine Health, please call 412-219-0386.