Spine Surgery : Neurosurgeon Vs Orthopedic Surgeon



Which one is better, an orthopedic spine surgeon or a neurosurgeon?

Patients having spine surgery have this as one of the most common questions. An answer to that is for most of the cases involving spine surgery, both specially trained orthopedic surgeons and neurosurgeons may be considered. This blog answers to the similarities and difference between the two specializations, and helps with additional advice on how to select a spine surgeon.


Orthopedic Surgeons and Neurosurgeons can Specialize in Spine Surgery

Earlier, primarily neurosurgeons used to be responsible for spine surgery, but in the past two or three decades spine surgery has evolved so that both orthopedic surgeons  and neurosurgeons specialize in spine surgery, and for most of the cases both types of surgeons are equally well qualified for the spine surgery.


Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine or Medical Doctors can be a Neurosurgeon and generally have five to six years of experience in resident program focused on the surgical treatment of neurological conditions. Neurosurgeons specializes in the treatment and diagnosis of disorders involving:

  • Spine and Spinal cord
  • Nerves
  • Brain
  • Intracranial and intraspinal vasculature

Some neurosurgeons practice exclusively on neural surgery, few on spine surgery, and some practice between the two.

Orthopedic Surgeons

Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine or Medical Doctors can be a orthopedic surgeon who have completed a five to six year surgical resident program focused on musculoskeletal conditions. Orthopedic doctors generally specialize in the treatment and diagnosis of almost all joint and bone disorders such as:

  • Sports injuries
  • Spinal disorders
  • Trauma
  • Arthritis
  • Total joint replacement
  • Bone tumors
  • Hand injuries and deformities

Some orthopedic doctors or surgeons focus their practice exclusively on other types of joints (e.g. knees, shoulders) and some on spine surgery exclusively, and some divide their practice among different areas.

Both orthopedic surgeons and neurosurgeons can pursue fellowship training to perform different types of spine surgery, but since it depends on specialization it always happens that one is more specialized than other to perform specific spine surgery.

Earlier spinal deformity surgery used to be performed by only orthopedic surgeons like scoliosis and other types of spinal deformity. Nowadays spinal deformity is operated by many neurosurgeons who tend to take special attention towards it.

But in most of the cases intradural surgery is only performed by qualified Neurosurgeons.

One thought on “Spine Surgery : Neurosurgeon Vs Orthopedic Surgeon

  • October 30, 2018 at 9:59 am

    Thanks for helping me understand that some orthopedic surgeons focus on joint problems. This is what I am actually looking for since my left knee has problems at times. Whenever it is cold, I can’t seem to fold it easily which concerns me if I would need a surgery.


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