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Neurosurgeon Vs Orthopedic Surgeon: Whom Should You Consult For Your Back Pain?

06 Jun, 2022

Blog author iconHealthtrip Team


If you have a spine problem or are experiencing back or neck pain, you may need to undergo a variety of spinal procedures. And during this time, the most crucial decision you need to make is choosing your surgeon. Whom should you consult for your spinal issues? Do neurosurgeons do back surgeries? Most people get confused between a neurosurgeon and an orthopedic surgeon. However, both are skilled enough to handle those moderate-to-complicated cases. Still, there are some differences that are worth nothing. Here we've discussed the same.

Neurosurgeon vs. Orthopedic surgeon:

Orthopedic surgeons are experts in the treatment of musculoskeletal disorders and diseases. All of the bones, joints, tendons, ligaments, muscles, cartilage, and nerves in the human body are part of the musculoskeletal system. An orthopedic surgeon's mission is to help treat acute injuries such as sprains, strains, fractures, and chronic illnesses such as arthritis and abnormalities such as scoliosis.

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Neurosurgeons treat illnesses and diseases of the brain and spinal cord. They have extensive experience working with central and peripheral nervous system components such as the brain, skull, spine, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves. Neurosurgeons, among other things, treat degenerative spinal diseases, brain injuries, and chronic pain issues.

As you can see, the spine is one place where neurosurgery and orthopedics intersect.

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What are the conditions treated by a neurosurgeon?

A neurosurgeon can treat various types of spine diseases, the most common of which is back discomfort. Arthritis, degenerative disc disease, herniated discs, spinal stenosis, spondylosis, osteoporosis, and vertebral fractures are all examples of spine disorders. Accidents, injuries, inflammation, infection, and degenerative wear and tear can all cause spinal problems.

Symptoms of spine problems include neck and back discomfort, pain radiating to the limbs, weakness, numbness, and a tingling sensation. A neurosurgeon can diagnose and treat you if you have these symptoms.

Neurosurgeons do not usually advocate surgery, but if it is required, they are extremely skilled in cutting-edge surgical techniques that will improve your rehabilitation and results.

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A list of procedures performed by a spine surgeon:

Orthopedic surgeons are either medical doctors (MD) or Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) who have completed a five-year surgical residency specializing in treating musculoskeletal problems. Orthopedists are experts in the diagnosis and treatment of nearly all bone and joint problems, including:

Some orthopedic surgeons specialize solely in spine surgery, while others specialize in treating other joints (e.g., hips, knees, shoulders), and some practice in two or more areas.

Why should you see a neurosurgeon for your back pain? If so, do neurosurgeons do back surgery?

Following medical school, neurosurgeons and orthopedic surgeons complete extensive surgical residency programs. During residency, both types of surgeons practice spine surgery. So, what's the difference?

During their residencies, neurosurgeons and orthopedic surgeons receive separate instruction. A neurosurgery residency lasts 6-7 years, during which time physicians alternate between doing brain and spine surgeries. Neurosurgeons have successfully done hundreds, if not thousands, of spine procedures by the end of their residencies. They have extensive hands-on expertise with the structures of the spine, spinal cord, and neurological system.

An orthopedic surgery residency, on the other hand, lasts 4-5 years. During that time, physicians divide their training between shoulder, hip, knee, ankle, foot, hand, wrist, elbow, and knee replacement.

While orthopedic surgeons undertake spine surgery throughout their residency, their exposure is far less than that of a neurosurgeon.

What are the other factors to consider while choosing your doctor?

  • Is your physician board-certified? Board certification assures that your doctor has received additional training and skill in his or her field. To maintain their certification, board-certified doctors must achieve extremely high standards of specialist knowledge and patient care.
  • Is your doctor familiar with less invasive techniques? Minimally invasive spine surgery employs sophisticated equipment and procedures to perform spine surgery safely and without the need for large incisions.
  • Does your doctor have a track record of success with the surgery you require? Don't be hesitant to inquire about your provider's level of experience with various spine surgeries.

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Neurosurgeons specialize in brain and spinal cord diseases, while orthopedic surgeons focus on musculoskeletal disorders and joints. Both can handle spine surgery, but with differences in training.