What is Orthopedic Spine?

Many patients ask about the differences between a spine surgeon from an orthopedic and neurosurgical specialty. In truth, at most major hospitals on a given day, orthopedic and neurosurgical trained surgeons will be performing the same procedures on the neck and back. Many of them have trained in the same or similar institutions and fellowships.

What are the differences between an Orthopedic Spine Surgeon and a Neurosurgeon?

In general, an orthopedic spine surgeon will have completed a fellowship dedicated to spine surgery after the orthopedic residency program. Some neurosurgeons complete additional spine training after residency and others do not. They are exposed to brain and spine training in their residency and may have varying experience levels and the percentage of their practice focused on the spine.

Orthopedic spine surgeons have a thorough understanding of associated joint problems that may impact the care of the spine. For example, they are able to differentiate the contribution of shoulder pathology in the setting of neck and shoulder pain or hip and sacroiliac pathology in the presence of back and leg pain. Many neurosurgeons do not have this exposure in their training.

Finally, an orthopedic spine surgeon has extensive experience in the rehabilitation of the spine as an alternative to surgery and following surgery. Many neurosurgeons do not receive this training as part of their residency.

Referrals Available for Comprehensive Spinal Care

If you would like your primary care physician to refer you to Northside Hospital Orthopedic Institute-Sports Medicine, we’re happy to provide comprehensive evaluation and expert care, including pain management, and coordinate with your doctor’s office. Our goal is your goal – to remain as active as possible with reduced pain.


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