Patients who are considering spine surgery may be surprised to learn that there are two specialists that operate on the spine — orthopedic surgeons and neurosurgeons. Both specialists diagnose and treat issues of the spine using non-invasive, minimally invasive, and surgical treatments. So, how do you know which doctor is right for you?
All patients are encouraged to become proactive about their healthcare, including choosing the better specialist for the job. Let’s talk about what differentiates an orthopedic surgeon from a neurosurgeon to help you decide which doctor is right for you.
Neurosurgeons primarily work with the brain and how it communicates with the rest of the body.
There was a time when neurosurgeons performed most spine surgeries. Neurosurgeons are trained in diagnosing and treating conditions and disorders that affect the central nervous system, which includes the brain, spine, spinal cord, and nerves. They can focus exclusively on specific regions, such as the brain or spine. They are the only specialists that can perform surgery inside the spinal dura.
Neurosurgeons can treat patients with brain tumors and neurological diseases that include but are not limited to stroke, seizures, Parkinson’s disease, and dementia. They also treat chronic pain disorders affecting the nervous system.
Brain or spine problems can cause the motor and sensory manifestations in the extremities that may be assumed to be due to orthopedic problems. If you have upper extremity issues, a surgeon specializing in the upper extremity is an excellent provider to consult. If your upper extremity symptoms are not related to an orthopedic issue, they will refer you to a neurosurgeon instead.
Orthopedic surgeons are experts in the diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal conditions, which affect the bones, joints, ligaments, cartilage, tendons, and other soft tissues. An orthopedic surgeon can provide nonsurgical and surgical treatments for patients with sports injuries, arthritis, upper extremity problems, lower extremity problems, spinal deformities, radiculopathy, traumatic spine injuries, and bone tumors.
Orthopedic surgeons primarily work with the function and mechanics of the musculoskeletal system. Many orthopedic surgeons are certified to perform surgeries of the spine. Most patients seek the help of an orthopedic specialist in the area of the body with symptoms. For example, a person with pain in the arms should seek treatment from an orthopedic specialist who specializes in the upper extremity. Most often, an orthopedic issue is the cause of symptoms. However, orthopedic physicians will refer patients to other specialists in situations where symptoms are caused by a non-orthopedic problem.
Which One To Choose?
It can be tricky for a patient to determine if a hand and wrist, shoulder, or elbow problem is due to a neurological or musculoskeletal issue, but neurological issues usually have more than one symptom and don’t just affect the extremities.
For upper extremity problems that are caused by athletics or occupation, an orthopedic surgeon may be the right doctor for you. To get the best care possible, choose an orthopedic surgeon fellowship-trained in upper extremity surgery.
You can also check with your primary care doctor for a referral to the right specialist.
Orthopedic Surgeon Near Me in Delray Beach, Boynton Beach & Boca Raton
If you are experiencing pain in your hands, arms, shoulders, or elbows due to your occupation or athletics, Dr. Steve Meadows at South Palm Orthopedics is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon with advanced fellowship training in upper extremity surgery. Dr. Meadows can treat your condition with nonsurgical and surgical methods. We will let you know what options are available to you.