Should I See an Orthopedic Surgeon or a Neurosurgeon?

When a spinal condition is discovered or suspected, a primary care physician (PCP) will usually refer the patient to either an orthopedic spine surgeon or a neurosurgeon for further diagnosis and treatment. If your doctor has suggested that you should actually undergo spinal surgery, you may be wondering which of those two surgeons is the better option for your condition.

Both of those types of surgeons have the training and expertise to perform complicated spinal surgeries and provide excellent care. However, there are some slight differences you should know so you and your primary care physician can find the most suitable surgeon for you.

What Are the Similarities Between a Neurosurgeon and an Orthopedic Surgeon?

Both orthopedic surgeons and neurosurgeons undergo intensive and focused training, and this is after all of their medical education and residency training. Both orthopedic surgeons and neurosurgeons are skilled in performing surgery for issues such as disc degeneration, disc herniations, spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis, and spinal fractures.

If you want to get down to the nitty-gritty, there are a few significant differences in the types of procedures that neurosurgeons and orthopedic surgeons perform.

What Does a Neurosurgeon Do?

Neurosurgeons are specialized in diagnosing and treating diseases and disorders of the nervous system. The nervous system includes the brain, spinal column, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves. One important distinction is that neurosurgeons can perform brain surgery and spinal surgery.

Only neurosurgeons are skilled to perform procedures inside the dura, which is the lining of the spinal canal. If your doctor has diagnosed you with a condition such as a spinal cord tumor, tethered spinal cord, Chiari malformation, or syringomyelia (spinal cyst), a neurosurgeon would be the medical professional to see.

Once the diagnosis and treatment has been completed, the neurosurgeon’s job is typically over. The rehabilitation or healing process is usually then passed on to another facility, and the condition of the patient is no longer under the direct care of the neurosurgeon.

What Does an Orthopedic Surgeon Do?

Most orthopedic surgeons specialize in the musculoskeletal system, which includes bones, muscles, ligaments, and tendons. However, the more specialized orthopedic spine surgeons perform surgery on backs and necks.

Some common spinal conditions treated by orthopedic spinal surgeons are pediatric and adult scoliosis, kyphosis (hunchback spine), and other spinal deformities.

If you opt for an orthopedic spine surgeon, they will follow your progress and stay in touch with you from beginning to end. From diagnosis to treatment and throughout rehabilitation, the orthopedic spine surgeon will often be monitoring you to keep track of your condition.

Orthopedic Surgeons in Canton

When choosing between a neurosurgeon or orthopedic surgeon for your spinal condition, be sure to choose a practitioner who is board-certified, appropriately trained, and has ample experience in spinal disorders.

If you’re looking for a specialized orthopedic center, meet the friendly doctors and staff at OrthoUnited. Our center provides a convenient, cost-effective option for patients who need specialized care quickly. With state-of-the-art MRI technology and an advanced surgical center plus physical therapists on staff, our facility houses everything necessary to take care of you.

For information about spinal issues, disc degeneration and repair, or to schedule an appointment, call us today at (844) 469-2663 or fill out our online appointment request form now. We look forward to serving you.