Orthopedic Spine Surgeon vs. Neurosurgeon

Calendar June 24, 2021
Orthopedic Spine Surgeon vs. Neurosurgeon

Orthopedic Spine Surgeons and Neurosurgeons are trained in Spine surgery, and they have far more similarities than differences.
In the large majority of cases, either specialty can treat most conditions. There are some differences we can compare.

Both surgeons go to medical school. Neurosurgery residency is 6 – 7 years. Orthopedic residency is typically 5 years, followed by a spine fellowship of 1 year.

Neurosurgery training involves the brain and spine.
Orthopedic surgery training involves bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, nerves, and the spine.


Regarding spinal pathology, there is significant overlap with regard to the conditions they treat and the surgeries they perform.

Neurosurgeons operate on the brain, spinal cord, and nerves. They also operate on the bony structures of the spine. They do not operate on other bones or joints.

Orthopedic Spine Surgeons operate on all joints and bones of the body, as well as the spine and nerves. They do not operate on the brain.

Both Orthopedic Spine Surgery and Neurosurgery do surgery on the spine to include nerve and spinal cord decompression, and spinal deformity correction/stabilization. Traditionally, neurosurgeons do not perform large scoliosis corrections, although they can. Orthopedic spine surgeons do not often perform surgery on spinal cord tumors or cysts.


What to Consider When Looking for an Orthopedic Spine Surgeon or a Neurosurgeon

When looking for a surgeon to perform spine surgery you must consider four things:
1. Training Experience Outcomes – Has the surgeon been trained to identify and treat your spinal problem?

2. What kind of experience does the surgeon have with your particular spinal problem? How many surgeries have they performed for your particular issue?

3. How often do they perform this surgery?

4. What are the surgeon’s outcomes with surgery for your problem?


The surgeon you select should be able and comfortable answering all of these questions.

Spine surgery is a complex endeavor that is both science and art. Both Neurosurgeons and Orthopedic Spine Surgeons perform spine surgery. There are subtle differences between the specialties, but the bottom line is that they both have the goal of reducing pain, increasing function, and stabilizing degeneration. Selecting the surgeon that best suits your problem can be challenging, especially if you haven’t identified exactly what the problem is. Both specialties are experts in identifying spinal conditions and diseases. After obtaining a diagnosis you should find a surgeon capable of giving you appropriate treatment recommendations. As explained above, in most cases both Orthopedic Spine Surgeons and Neurosurgeons will be able to treat spinal conditions that require surgery.


Azalea Orthopedics is a Division of Ortholonestar. We are the leaders in spine care across East Texas. Our group houses both spine surgeons and pain management doctors capable and ready to help you get back on your feet. Back pain is virtually impossible to deal with on your own; get to Azalea and discuss your options with a spine expert today. To schedule an appointment in one of our many locations in East Texas, click here or call 903-939-7501.

Written by:
Dr. Michael Merrick & Dean Pennington II, PA-C

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