People often think of neurologists and neurosurgeons as the same type of doctor. However, this isn’t the case. While both specialize in diseases and treatments of the central nervous system, including the brain and spinal cord, they are distinct practices. Learn more about the difference between these fields.
The brain is the most complex system in the body and treating it requires highly specific training. That’s why neurological services are broken up into two fields — neurology and neurosurgery — allowing physicians in each discipline to focus on their area of expertise and deliver the best care. Follow this guide to learn more about what each specialty entails.
Neurology treats and diagnoses diseases of the brain externally with the occasional minimally invasive procedure. Diagnostic tests like electroencephalograms (EEG), computer-assisted tomography (CAT) scans and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are done in a neurologist’s office to search for the causes of uncontrolled headaches, sleep disorders, tremors or brain and spinal cord injuries.
Neurologists may narrow their practice even further to specialize in a specific disease or disorder. Some standard concentrations include learning disorders, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis (MS) or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
A neurologist will be the primary care physician for you or your loved one’s neurological condition. You’ll regularly report to them for checkups or treatment options. If an operation or specific treatment is needed outside of their practice, they will refer patients to another doctor with the right qualifications.
While neurosurgery also treats and diagnoses nervous system diseases, this field includes surgeries as a treatment option. They address brain and spine conditions like back or neck pain, herniated discs, sciatica and other spine degenerative diseases. As neurologists cannot perform surgery, they may refer a patient to a neurosurgeon for a medical operation.
Since the central nervous system controls the whole body’s functions, neurosurgeons may treat problems you wouldn’t think are related to your spine, like carpal tunnel. Additionally, neurosurgeons can handle complications from strokes, aneurysms or cerebrovascular disorders.
Neurosurgeons also treat patients with non-surgical approaches before turning to surgery. If an operation is necessary, they’ll look to perform the least invasive treatment available.
At New York Spine Institute, our team of specialists is committed to excellent comprehensive and compassionate service for neurosurgery. If you or a loved one are seeking neurological care on Long Island, contact us today to see what we can do for you.