Orthopedic Surgeon vs Neurosurgeon
Do you have a spinal problem but are unsure if you need a neurosurgeon or an orthopedic surgeon? Don’t worry. It can be confusing as to who you should see. That’s why it’s essential to understand that both a neurosurgeon and orthopedic surgeon can perform spinal surgery, and what they roles fulfill precisely.
Medicine is a forever developing field, so much so that training in each field today can overlap. Although orthopedists and neurosurgeons are very similar, it’s also important to understand their differences too.
As a patient, the more knowledge and the more research you have, the more you will identify which would be best for you.
What is an Orthopedic Surgeon?
Orthopedic physicians specialize in the musculoskeletal system, which means everything from your joints to your ligaments, your bones, tendons and muscles. If you suffer from hip or back pain, arthritis, dislocated joints, such issues will fall under orthopedics. Many orthopedics go onto sub-specialize, meaning that they focus on a specific area like hand and wrist, hips and knees etc.
Sub-specialized orthopedics tend to focus on a particular area, which means that they can diagnose and prevent issues on a much more intricate scale. The benefits of having a sub-specialist are that they have a vast wealth of knowledge and experience regarding their speciality. They will be able to give you the best possible treatment for your problematic area. Given that the human body has more than 200 bones, it is understandable that it’s an in-demand speciality.
What Do Neurosurgeons Do?
Your brain, spine and connecting nerves make up your nervous system. A neurologist or neurosurgeon is able to treat disorders that impact your brain, spinal cord, nerves and all their surrounding structures. Initially, your first appointment is likely to be with a neurologist, who will conduct a series of tests, and if they find something that may be troublesome, they will refer you to a neurosurgeon.
After you meet with your neurosurgeon, they may ask you to undergo more testing. This will help them determine whether or not you need surgery. Neurosurgeons don’t just perform surgeries, but they also work to help diagnose your condition and provide support for both surgical and non-surgical treatments like pain management.
If you are unsure about when you should see a neurosurgeon, it’s a good idea to speak to your primary care physician first. They will help you determine if and when you should see a neurosurgeon and even get you referred.
After medical school, all neurosurgeons in the United States undergo a six or seven-year residency training program. This is to gain as much experience as possible in spinal disorders and non-surgical treatments.
By the time neurosurgeons graduated from an accredited academy, they have already assisted in hundreds of surgeries. So don’t be scared your neurosurgeon is a new graduate. He or she will already have a vast amount of experience. In fact, during the entire duration of their residency, they perform both brain and spinal surgeries daily basis.
The hands-on experience allows them to be highly trained. Interestingly neurosurgeons undergo special training that helps them work around the nervous system and to preserve it as much as possible.
Spine Specialist Doctors
Sometimes people tend to view neurosurgeons as “brain doctors”, but they actually perform a very high numbers of spinal surgery. Due to the fact that neurosurgeons deal with the nervous system, and a large part of that is the spinal cord and spinal nerves that are present throughout the spine, they are definitely spine doctors.
Neurosurgeons can perform the entire suite of spinal surgeries, with some breaking new ground with innovative procedures like the laser spine surgery. Spine specialists have the aim of fixing whichever spinal issues is at hand, while causing the least amount of tissue damage while doing so. This usually means performing minimally invasive surgeries which have less complications and faster recovery times.
Orthopedic Surgeon Training
Orthopedic surgeons also undergo an intensive five-year training program, and although their residency is shorter, they perform a high number of spinal surgeries. Orthopedic surgeons tend to specialize in trauma-induced injuries such as a broken hip or ankle. They also specialize in disorders like scoliosis, spinal stenosis, slipped disc, and herniated discs.
Also, orthopedics are experts in sports injuries, and some get the opportunity to work with top professional athletes and sports teams. Although training orthopedic and neurosurgeon training programs vary, one thing is for sure, they both develop a very hands-on experience. However, both have the ability and expertise to perform spinal surgeries and minimally invasive spine procedures.
Learn About Your Doctor
Luckily today, as a patient, you have options. Which means you don’t have to settle for something you are not comfortable with. To find the best orthopedic surgeon or neurosurgeon, you can have a consultation with both to assess your situation and to see which would be the best suited to you. Your primary care physician can refer you to either. Alternatively, you can set up a consultation directly. Regardless, the important thing is that you ask as many questions as possible.
Ask them about their training, area of expertise, practice, and the possibilities of the surgery or treatment recommended to you. Neurosurgeons and orthopedic physicians are here to help you live your life as best and healthy as possible. Developing a relationship with either your neurosurgeon or orthopedic surgeon will help you be more comfortable when making a decision.
A good orthopedic physicians or neurosurgeons will be dedicated to helping you improve your way of life. They see patients day in day out, and they have probably come across the symptoms that are worrying you. The more they know about you and your situation, the better treatment they can give you.
Physicians aren’t just trained to conduct surgeries. They’re also here to educate you about how your body works and what may be happening to it, and how to resolve any issues. So, ask questions, speak up and understand the exact type of treatment that you are getting.
The Bottom Line
There is a shared goal in advancing the spinal field further. That’s why orthopedics and neurosurgeons work together to provide the best possible care. When it comes down to it, it’s your body, and it’s only natural that you want the best possible outcome.
That’s why you should always do your own research. Research the most up-to-date treatments and techniques, ask as many questions as you want and more importantly, make sure you are comfortable with your surgeon.