Nowadays, there are a variety of medical professionals available to diagnose and treat a range of medical conditions. While some doctors tend to focus on the overall health of their patients and evaluate a range of health conditions that affect all parts of the body, others choose to focus on one particular area, or speciality, of medicine. An example of this is a neurologist, who focuses on the diagnosis and non-surgical treatment of disorders affecting the nerves, brain, and spinal cord.
Another example is a spinal surgeon, who uses surgical intervention to treat back and neck pain. Both of these specialists commonly see patients with back and neck pain every day. Although you may assume that you need to see a spinal surgeon for back and neck pain, seeing a neurologist can also be quite beneficial. Here’s why:
While there are different causes of neck and back pain, many cases can be attributed to nerve problems. Since neurologists are basically nerve experts, they are able to effectively determine if your pain is being caused by nerve damage or compression. Furthermore, a neurologist can use certain diagnostic tests to pinpoint the specific location of the affected nerve, which allows for more direct treatment.
More Conservative Treatments
When most people experience back or neck pain, they think of visiting a spinal surgeon. While this may still end up being the best option, neurologists can offer a variety of alternatives to spinal surgery. Unfortunately, many spinal surgeons tend to focus more on surgical treatments, since that is their specialty. Even if you have seen a spinal surgeon, it can be beneficial to see a neurologist as well to make sure that you have exhausted more conservative treatment options before jumping into surgery.
Precise Treatment Plan
As mentioned above, there are still certain cases of back and neck pain that will eventually only benefit from spinal surgery. In these cases, it helps to have a neurologist who can offer an accurate diagnosis as a starting point for your spinal surgeon. Having your neurologist coordinate with your spinal surgeon ultimately benefits you by allowing you to have a precise treatment plan.
Depending on your diagnosis, your neurologist will be able to recommend spinal surgeons that are appropriate for treating your back and neck pain. Although neurologists don’t perform surgery themselves, they may also be able to offer advice on certain types of surgical techniques and/or spinal surgeons that can help with your procedure.
In some respects, your neurologist is like a primary care doctor for your nervous system. What this means is that they will provide you with all the long-term care you need whether you decide to use surgical or non-surgical treatments. This is especially important after recovering from spinal surgery, since most surgeons specialize in short-term care that revolves around the surgical procedure.
Overall, you will need to make the decision that works best for you, but seeing a neurologist for back and neck pain can provide you with non-surgical treatment alternatives. And even if you decide to see a spinal surgeon for potential back surgery, a neurologist can still help with your diagnosis, referral, and long-term care.
Dr. Kashouty, a diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN), practices general neurology with fellowship trained specialization in clinical neurophysiology. Dr. Kashouty finds the form and function of the nerves and muscles the most interesting part of neurology, which is what led him to specialize in neurophysiology with more emphasis on neuromuscular conditions. He treats all neurological diseases, but his main focus is to treat and manage headaches, movement disorders and neuromuscular diseases.