Getting Help for Back and Joint Pain

Chronic aches and pain can make even the simplest tasks feel hard. Let us help you feel like you again. You have options with your Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan plan.

It’s time to get back to the things you love

It starts with a slight twinge. Or worse, a can’t-get-out-of-bed kind of day. But rest assured, there are a number of things you can do to feel better – no matter if you have spine, hip, knee or other joint pain. 

If you're in pain

TAKE THE FIRST STEP

Start with your primary care doctor

Just like when you have a cold, your doctor should be your first call if you’re in pain. They’ll listen to your concerns, examine you and recommend next steps. If you don’t have a primary care doctor, you can use your online member account to find one who accepts your plan.

Treatment your doctor may recommend

Depending on your symptoms, your primary care doctor may suggest one or more of the following:

 

 

  • Self-treatment at home, such as increments of heat and ice, or exercises

  • Physical therapy, which can include guided exercises and massage

  • Weight loss, a healthier diet and/or stopping the use of tobacco products

  • Pain management with medications, and/or other treatments, like injections

Take pain medicine responsibly

Your doctor may prescribe pain medication to help with your symptoms. It’s important to take the medication as prescribed, especially if it’s an opioid. Taking more medications than prescribed can lead to substance use disorder or even death.

Read Opioids 101

LIFESTYLE CHANGES MAY HELP

Weight loss and tobacco cessation programs

For many, weight loss, exercise and stopping the use of tobacco, like smoking, can make a big difference. 

As a Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan member, you have access to:

 

Did you know

Studies show that being overweight increases conditions like arthritis in your back and joints1

We’re here to help

Physical pain can take a mental toll

When you’re in pain, you can’t do all the things you used to do. Understandably, this can lead to sadness or depression. Your Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan plan can support your mental health, too. Get support

Phone + online therapy

In-person support

Self-guided care

Primary care physician

If you need surgery

Things to consider

In many but not all cases, surgery is a last resort when other treatment options for back and joint pain have failed. Be sure to discuss the potential risks and benefits with your doctor. We’ll also take certain steps to make sure you’re set up for the best possible outcome.

Surgery and your health plan coverage

When you have a spine and joint issue that requires surgical options, we work with your doctor to make sure that the procedures and services you get are necessary, safe and will deliver the best possible outcomes. 

A team of health care professionals at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan will review your doctor’s recommendation and compare it with the most current, medical guidelines. Orthopedic specialists will also help review cases to ensure you receive optimal care and can achieve the best possible outcomes. 

In some cases, we may ask your doctor to help you work on additional lifestyle changes before we approve your coverage. Keep reading to learn more.

 


If your body mass index is high

Studies show that being overweight can lead to complications during and after surgery1. Here’s what we’d want to see happen before we’d approve your surgery coverage.

  • BMI of 30-35: Your medical record must show you and your doctor discussed weight loss.
  • BMI of 35-40: Your medical record must show your doctor gave you a plan for weight loss.
  • BMI of 40 or more: You will likely need to lose weight before we approve your coverage.

Remember, as a Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan member, you have access to Blue365® discounts. You can save money on weight loss programs, healthy food deliveries, fitness classes and even a FitBit®. 

If you use tobacco products

Studies show that tobacco affects your bone health. It can also lead to poor surgery outcomes and an increased risk of infection, cardiac arrest, stroke and death2.

We highly recommend you stop smoking or using any form of tobacco leading up to surgery. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan has two tobacco cessation programs that can help you, including a digital health assistant and 12-week coaching program.

 

EXPERIENCE MATTERS

Finding the right surgery provider

We can help connect you with surgeons in Michigan or facilities out of state with experience treating spine and joint issues. These providers also have a proven track record of following national orthopedic guidelines. 

Because of this, we’ve given them a Spine and Joint Care program designation. You can find them this way:

  • Log in to your online member account
  • Scroll down and choose, Find a specialist
  • Select, Doctors by specialty, and type surgery 
  • Choose, More filters and then Spine & Joint Care Program

How much does surgery cost?

It depends on your plan. You can check your coverage by logging in now.

If you want more resources

Recommended reading

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A gentler approach to back pain treatment

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Tips to manage pain and your mental health

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The information contained on this webpage is for educational purposes only. Nothing on this webpage is intended to be, nor should be used as or relied upon as, professional medical advice. Nothing contained on this webpage is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. For medical advice, or to receive medical diagnosis or treatment, consult with your health care provider.