Neurosurgeons deal with anything involving the nervous system. That includes the brain, the spine, and all the systems surrounding the two. The nervous system is a collection of nerves that transmit information around the body like pain and sensory information. There are two parts of this system, the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system. Nerves are basically fibers that begin at the brain and central cord and then extend throughout the rest of the body. There are sensory neurons in the nerves that indicate different things like light, sound, and touch. Motor neurons are in the central nervous system and send signals that activate muscles within the body.
What Does a Neurosurgeon Do?
Neurosurgeons are medical doctors with a specialization in treating conditions that effect the brain, spine and nervous system. There is a long schooling, training, and residency process required to be called a neurosurgeon, so over a decade of knowledge is gained before beginning a career in neurosurgery. Neurosurgeons undergo one of the longest training periods of any speciality. First you need 4 years of pre-med education, then 4 years of medical school, and after graduating from medical school you need at least 1 year of internship. So once a potential neurosurgeon begins their medical residency at a hospital they have already gone 9 years of training. But that’s not the end, since residency lasts between 5 and 7 years, with fellowship training and board certifications potentially after that.
You can rest assured a neurosurgeon is well trained in the field, and is capable in nuanced surgical techniques such as open surgery, minimally invasive surgery, endoscopic surgery, microsurgery, and more. Neurosurgeons are trained to operate on brains, but probably spend more time dealing with conditions of the spine and issues stemming from this rather than the brain.
When to See a Neurosurgeon
There are a number of common diseases, injuries, and ailments that a neurosurgeon can treat effectively. An experienced neurosurgeon utilizes their skills as a qualified surgeon to resolve many conditions with a wide range of surgical operations. However, they are also medical doctors that can also use non-surgical treatment methods such as injections and therapies to treat many spinal conditions. The most common conditions a neurosurgeon will treat include:
- Back pain
- Neck pain
- Herniated discs
- Degenerative disc disease
- Spinal osteoarthritis
- Tumors of the brain or spine
- Traumatic head, neck or spine injuries
You might be referred to a neurosurgeon from your primary care doctor if you have one of these conditions, or individually seek one out. Many conditions of the spine cause back pain or neck pain, so if you have chronic pain in the back or neck it’s advisable to get medical advice from a neurosurgeon. The decades of expertise in their specialty lends itself to accurate diagnosis of what could be causing the pain.
Neurologist vs Neurosurgeon
Neurologists and neurosurgeons are similar in that they both deal with the nervous system and the disorders that are associated with it. However, neurologists do not perform surgery and will refer to a neurosurgeon in the case that a patient requires surgery. Neurologists treat conditions like Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, sleep disorders, and brain tumors and offer non-surgical treatment. Neurosurgeons can perform surgery but also offer non-surgical treatment as well. As well as the previously mentioned conditions they can also treat conditions related to the nervous system in places you might not expect, such as carpal tunnel syndrome. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition caused by a compressed nerve in the wrist, which is part of the central nervous system, thus a neurosurgeon can treat this condition.
Generally surgery is reserved for cases in which it is necessary. Neurosurgeons will attempt to use non-invasive procedures and therapies if possible, and if surgery is necessary then a minimally invasive technique is the preferred method. Minimally invasive means less cutting and lower risks and complications from surgery.
Atlanta Neurosurgeons Near You
Neurosurgeons work with a team of medical professionals, so you can get a comprehensive treatment for any neurological conditions. AllSpine is a premier Atlanta neurosurgery center that has been treating patients in Georgia for over 20 years. Our doctors have performed thousands of procedures throughout their tenured careers, with experience in the full suite of spinal surgeries. With 3 surgery centers around the Atlanta metro area we have convenient locations for consultations. Whether you have a spinal disorder or have an injury due to a fall, car accident, or degenerative disease, we can help you feel better.