When deciding where to turn after an injury, some may wonder about the difference between an orthopedic doctor and neurologist. Which one should they see and why?
Orthopedic Doctor vs Neurologist
Both an Atlanta neurologist and an orthopedic doctor have training equipped to deal with spinal injuries. Both are also considered spine specialists and can provide excellent care.
If you suffer from a spinal condition such as disc herniation or degeneration, spinal fractures, spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis, or other types of spinal injuries or pain, both a neurologist and an orthopedic doctor are equipped to treat these spinal conditions.
While in recent years the lines may have blurred between what exactly a neurologist and an orthopedic doctor do, there are still some evident differences between the two that can be the difference between who you need to schedule an appointment with.
What Does an Orthopedic Doctor Do?
An orthopedic doctor’s main focus is narrower than a neurologist’s. The better part of an orthopedic doctors’ day is spent on treating injuries of the spine, back, and neck. They also follow their patient from the start of treatment all the way through to recovery. They are with patients every step of the way including diagnosis, treatment options, and rehabilitation, all the while following up on a patient’s progress until rehabilitation is completed.
What Does a Neurologist Do?
Neurology is a medical specialty that more precisely diagnoses and treats problems of the central nervous system composed of the brain, spinal cord, spinal column, and peripheral nerves. A neurologist focuses on treating conditions affecting the entire central nervous system.
A neurologist’s day consists largely of diagnosing and treating brain and spinal cord injuries. Once this portion of a patient’s care plan has ended, a neurologist will refer the patient to another doctor to follow up on their progress and rehabilitation.
Each neurologist and orthopedic doctor may have a different subspecialty focus that can differentiate them from other doctors.
For example, certain neurologists may specialize in brain injuries while orthopedic doctors may have a focus on pediatric spinal conditions. Both are qualified to treat back and neck problems, but their subspecialty may make them a better choice for your type of injury.
Whatever your unique situation, be sure to ask about a neurologist or orthopedic doctor’s specialty to see if one might be better equipped to meet your needs than another.
The Differences in Treatment With Orthopedic Doctors vs Neurologists
There are a few prominent procedures only each specialty doctor is trained to perform. For instance, only a neurologist is trained to perform surgery inside the dura, the lining of the spinal canal.
For this reason, a neurologist is the best option for treating conditions such as a tethered spinal cord or spinal cord tumor. Conditions such as syringomyelia and Chiari malformation also still fall under the neurologist specialty. On the other hand, such conditions like pediatric and adult scoliosis, spinal deformities, or kyphosis still fall under the realm of an orthopedic doctor.
Today, both types of doctors have developed a friendly working relationship and can work together to provide comprehensive care. Together, they want you to receive treatment for the best end results. But if there are subtle differences in your injuries such as the ones listed above, they would be better addressed by either a neurologist or an orthopedic doctor to achieve the desired outcome and recovery.
AICA Orthopedics employs highly trained, skilled neurologists and orthopedic doctors. Our team strives to provide accurate diagnoses and quality treatment for the source of your injuries or pain.
With knowledge, expertise, and experience, our specialists place patient needs at the top of the priority list in order to provide you specific and individualized care. To learn more about our neurologists and orthopedic doctors, please don’t hesitate to call our offices.