If you are one of the millions of people who suffer from back pain, you may be wondering what type of doctor you should see. Many people automatically assume that they need to see a general practitioner, but this may not be the best option for them. In some cases, it is necessary to see a specialist. A spine specialist is a medical professional who has been trained specifically in diagnosing and treating back problems. In this blog post, we will define what a spine specialist is, explain the different types of specialists, and discuss why seeing one may be the best decision for you.
What is a Spine Specialist?
A spine specialist is a medical professional who has been specifically trained in diagnosing and treating problems of the spine. These specialists typically have completed an additional year or two of residency training beyond what is required for general practitioners. In addition, they often complete fellowships that focus on spinal disorders. This extra training allows them to have a more in-depth understanding of the spine and its disorders.
There are several different types of spine specialists, including:
Orthopedic Surgeons (MD or DO)
Orthopedic surgeons are medical doctors (MD) or doctors of osteopathic medicine (OD) who have completed five years worth of residency training in orthopedic surgery and the treatment of musculoskeletal conditions. These surgeons operate on the bones, joints, and muscles. They are also more likely to focus on spine deformity surgery.
Neurosurgeons (MD or DO)
Neurosurgeons are medical doctors (MD) or doctors of osteopathic medicine (OD) who have completed a five or six year residency training in neurosurgery and the treatment of disorders affecting the brain, spine, spinal cord, nerves, intracranial, and intraspinal vasculature. They operate on the nervous system, which includes the brain and spine. They are also more likely to focus on spinal surgery for intradural tumors.
A physiatrist is a medical doctor (MD) who specializes in physical medicine and rehabilitation. This specialty focuses on restoring function to people who have been affected by illness, injury, or disability. Physiatrists treat a wide range of conditions, including back pain, neck pain, and spinal cord injury. They may also prescribe medications, physical therapy, and other forms of non-surgical treatment.
Why See a Spine Specialist?
The two most common reasons to see a spine specialist are:
As we mentioned before, spine specialists have additional training beyond what is required for general practitioners. This extra training allows them to have a more in-depth understanding of the spine and its disorders. Some spine specialists also have a subspecialty, such as orthopedic surgery or neurosurgery. This allows them to provide more specialized care for their patients.
Spine specialists often see a higher volume of patients with back problems than general practitioners. This means that they have more experience diagnosing and treating these disorders. Many specialists are also part of professional organizations that keep them caught up with the most up to date technological advancements in spinal medicine.
Additionally, you may need to see a spine specialist if:
- Your pain is severe and/or persistent
- You have suffered a major spine injury, such as a fracture
- You have a history of back problems that require surgery
- You have been diagnosed with a condition that affects the spine, such as scoliosis or spondylolisthesis
- You are considering spinal surgery
In this blog post, we have defined what a spine specialist is, explained the different types of specialists, and discussed why seeing one may be the best decision for you. If you are experiencing back pain, or have been diagnosed with a condition that affects the spine, we recommend that you make an appointment with your local spinal specialists.