Some doctors train to treat diseases of the bones, and these are called orthopedic doctors. Those who decide to perform surgery on the bones are called orthopedic surgeons, and some specially trained orthopedic surgeons can perform surgical procedures to treat back pain.
Doctors who specialize in the study of the nerves, spinal cord, and brain are called neurologists. Doctors who perform surgery on any of these organs are called neurosurgeons and have deeper training for all spine injuries.
The question then arises: which doctor is best suited to the back problem that I have? The answer is not a straight forward one, and the lines between these two types of surgeons are blurring. It is important to understand what each surgeon does and how that will impact your back condition and recovery time.
What is an Orthopedic Surgeon?
Orthopedic surgeons generally treat any gross deformation of the skeleton. If you have a fracture of a long bone, need a joint replaced, or experience trauma that impacts a bone, you will most likely need an orthopedic surgeon. Like their neurosurgeon counterparts, they undergo a rigorous four to five year residency in orthopedic medicine. In large facilities, they may actually experience as many spinal surgeries as the neurosurgeon, but in smaller cities, they may see a wide range of orthopedic bone injuries.
Like the neurosurgeon, they also have particular conditions that they specialize in. Most scoliosis cases – either adolescent onset or adult complications arising from scoliosis – are still treated by orthopedic surgeons.