While neurosurgeons and neurologists have special education and training in the brain and the spine, their roles differ. Continue reading for a guide on the difference between the two doctors and which you should see for treatment.
A neurologist is a doctor who diagnoses and treats conditions of the brain and nervous system — from headaches to Alzheimer’s disease. Some neurologists specialize in degenerative disorders or chronic diseases. Overall, they can perform and order certain diagnostic tests — such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRIs) or computer-assisted tomography — but cannot perform surgery.
Contrary to popular belief or media portrayals, a neurosurgeon does more than just brain surgery. Neurosurgeons can also treat spinal conditions, including back pain, neck pain, sciatica, degenerative disc disease and herniated discs.
Neurosurgeons perform complex surgeries whenever needed but often opt for non-surgical treatments first. Some surgeries can even be done in a minimally invasive format for quicker recovery times.
Both doctors can work together in some circumstances. For example, a neurologist may refer a patient with a pinched nerve to a neurosurgeon for a required surgery. A neurosurgeon will take over if a physical cause is discovered or thought to be behind the condition.
Many people tend to see a neurologist when dealing with back pain because they fear a neurosurgeon will only offer surgery as the only treatment option. This isn’t always the case — neurosurgeons only perform surgery if immediately necessary or as a last resort.
Neurosurgeons can offer non-surgical treatments or minimally invasive surgical options for a shorter recovery period. Consult a neurosurgeon if:
At New York Spine Institute, our world-class neurosurgeon Dr. Nicholas Post offers comprehensive spinal care for patients with spine or brain complications ranging from acute to debilitating.
NYSI is the sole independent spine and neurosurgical practice in Long Island offering comprehensive spinal care that includes multiple subspecialties. Schedule your consultation with us and get on the road to recovery today.