Brian W. Nelson, MD
PNBC Founder and Board Member

Dr. Nelson began his medical career as a general orthopedist but after several years decided to concentrate on the treatment of chronic spinal pathology using a fitness approach to treat thousands of patients. As a founder and board member of Physicians Neck & Back Clinics (PNBC), he has lectured around the world, conducted several research studies, and published several articles in peer-reviewed medical journals. Prior to entering medical school in the late `70s, Dr. Nelson put his aeronautical engineering degree from the United States Air Force Academy to work as an Air Force fighter pilot and is a Viet Nam combat veteran. In his free time he enjoys 'crushing' Dr. Kelly in tennis and golf (not much of a feat, however).

Dr. Nelson is no longer seeing patients. He continues as the Medical Director overseeing the care of all patients, consulting on difficult cases, and monitoring outcomes. 



  • Resident, Orthopedic Surgery, University of Minnesota, 1981-1985
  • Internship in General Surgery, Hennepin County Medical Center; Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1981
  • University of Minnesota Medical School, M.D. 1980
  • United States Air Force Academy, Colorado; Aeronautical Engineering, B.S. 1969



  • Board Certified in Orthopedic Surgery


Professional Activities(s):

  • North American Spine Society, 1992 - Present
  • American Back Society, 1992 - Present
  • American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, 1992 - Present
  • Diplomate of the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery, 1989 - Present
  • Minnesota Orthopedic Society, 1985 - Present
  • Past Member, Ramsey County Medical Society
  • Past Member, American College of Sports Medicine


Speaking Engagement(s):

  1. “Limitations of Ender's Nails in the Stabilization of Femoral Shaft Fractures.” Presented at the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons 1985 Annual Meeting.
  2. “The Efficacy of Isokinetic Rehabilitation on Disease of the Lumbar Spine.” Presented in Tokyo, Japan, January 1988. Japanese Symposium on Lumbar Disease.
  3. “Rehabilitation of the Cervical Spine.” Spinal Rehab Update 1991. Sponsored by The University of Florida College of Medicine. September 1991.
  4. “Clinical Results: A Two Year Review.” Spine and Strength Symposium. Sponsored by the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine. July 1992.
  5. “13 Month Clinical Follow-Up on 1000 patients: What Happens to the Exercise Rehabilitation Patient after Discharge?” Exercise Rehabilitation of the Spine: Update '93. Sponsored by the University of Florida College of Medicine. July 1993.
  6. “Quantitative Assessment." Back Pain '93. Sponsored by Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke 's Medical Center and Skol Publishing.
  7. “Testing and Exercise Training of the Isolated Lumbar and Cervical Spine.” American Back Society Fall Meeting, San Francisco, Dec 1993.
  8. “Strength Training for spondylolisthesis, acute disc syndromes, spinal stenosis, and degenerative spinal disease.” Spine and Strength Symposium. Sponsored by The University of California, San Diego. July 1994.
  9. “Treatment of Surgical Candidates With Aggressive Strengthening: Results in a Group of 140 Cervical and Lumbar Patients.” Exercise Rehabilitation of the Spine: Update ‘95. Sponsored by the University of Florida College of Medicine. April 1995.
  10. “Resistance Training and Back Health.” American College of Sports Medicine 42nd Annual Meeting. Minneapolis, Mn. June 1995.
  11. “Preventing Spinal Surgery by Using Aggressive Exercise: Results of a Prospective Study with 421 Patients.” International Congress on Chronic Low Back Pain. Wurzburg, Germany. Mar 1996.
  12. “Treating Cervical and Lumbar Surgical Candidates With Intensive, Specific Exercise Instead of Surgery: Results in 421 Patients.” Comprehensive Spine and Joint Care - From Exercise To Outcome. University of California, San Diego, Department of Orthopedics. La Jolla, California. July 1996.
  13. “Can Spine Surgery Be Prevented With Aggressive Exercise? A Prospective Study.” North American Spine Society Annual Meeting. Vancouver, British Columbia. November 1997.
  14. “A Revolutionary Approach to Back Injury Prevention.” Blue Cross Blue Shield 3rd Annual Workers’ Compensation Educational Symposium. Minneapolis, MN. Oct 1998.
  15. “Can Industrial Back Injuries Really be Prevented?” 13th Annual Low Back Pain Symposium. Las Vegas, Nev. Jun 1999.
  16. “Preventing Spinal Surgery With Aggressive Exercise.” International Congress on Spinal Disease. Cologne, Germany. March 2000.
  17. “Results of Back Injury Prevention in the Airline Industry.” Minnesota Safety Council Annual Meeting. Minneapolis, MN. May 2001.
  18. "Optimal Strength Training: Things You Haven't Been Taught". Northern Chapter American College of Sports Medicine.  St. Cloud. MN. April 2005.


Published Article(s):

  1. "A Comparison of Osteoclastic Activating Factor Activity in Diabetics vs. Non- Diabetics". BW Nelson, 1980 (unpublished).
  2. "Sometimes the Good Guys Win". BW Nelson. Medical Economics. Volume 69, No. 2. January 20, 1992.
  3. "Spinal Care in the 1990's". BW Nelson. Minnesota Physician. Volume 6, No.8. November 1992.
  4. "Breakthrough For Back Pain". WV Zucker and BW Nelson. Lester, Street Publishing. Copyright 1992.
  5. "A Rational Approach to the Treatment of Low Back Pain". BW Nelson. Journal of Musculoskeletal Medicine. May 1993 Vo. 10, No. 5.
  6. “The Clinical Effects of Intensive, Specific Exercise on Chronic Low-Back Pain: A Controlled Study of 895 Consecutive Patients with One Year Follow-Up.” BW Nelson, EJ O’Reilly, M Miller, et. al. Orthopedics 18(10): 971-981; October 1995.
  7. “Worker’s Comp: What’s Gone Wrong?” BW Nelson and JA Wegner Minnesota Physician. Volume 9, No. 7. October 1999
  8. “ Management of Back Pain in Athletes.” TE Dreisinger and BW Nelson. Sports Medicine. 21(4): 313-320. April 1996.
  9. "Climate of Distrust.” BW Nelson. Minnesota Physician. October 1997.
  10. “Redesigning the American Workplace.” BW Nelson, DM Carpenter, TE Dreisinger. Rehab Management. Oct/Nov 1998.
  11. “Can Spinal Surgery be Prevented by Aggressive Strengthening Exercises? A Prospective Study of Cervical and Lumbar Patients.” BW Nelson, DM Carpenter, TE Dreisinger, M Mitchell, CE Kelly, JA Wegner. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Vol 80: pp. 20-25. 1999.
  12. “Low back strengthening for the prevention and treatment of low back pain.” DM Carpenter, BW Nelson. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. Vol. 31, No. 1, pp. 18-24,1999.
  13. “Restorative Exercise for Clinical Low Back Pain.” S Leggett, V Mooney, L Matheson, BW Nelson, T Dresisinger, J Van Zytveld, L Vie. Spine 24 (9): 889-898. May 1999.
  14. “Treatment Overload.” BW Nelson and A Coulter. Minnesota Physician. Vol. 13, No. 3. Jun 1999. April 2001.
  15. “A Randomized Clinical Trial of Exercise and Spinal Manipulation for Chronic   Neck Pain.”  G Bronfort, DC, PhD, RoniEvans,DC,BW Nelson, MD,PD Aker,DC,  MSc, CH Goldsmith, PhD, BW Nelson, H Vernon, DC, Spine 26 (7): 788-     799.April 2001.
  16. “Two-year follow-up of a randomized clinical trial of spinal manipulation and two types of exercise for patients with chronic neck pain.” G Bronfort, DC, PhD, Roni Evans, DC, BW Nelson, MD, PD Aker,  DC, MSc, CH Goldsmith, PhD, BW Nelson, H Vernon, DC. Spine, Vol. 27 (21):  2383-2389. April 2002.
  17. “Outcomes Revolution: The Value of Meaningful Data.”  BW Nelson, Minnesota Physician, Vol. 19, No. 1, Apr 2005.

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