A Neurosurgeon is best qualified to diagnose and treat any painful condition relating to the brain and spine.
Neurosurgeons treat the full spectrum of brain and spinal conditions. Neurosurgeons are able to identify and treat painful conditions of the spine no matter what the source. Additionally, some conditions of the upper spine are intimately involved with the skull and nerves of the face, an area of the body in which a Neurosurgeon is also very familiar.
Neurosurgical training is seven years long. Those seven years are spent entirely on understanding the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the brain and spine. The focus of a Neurosurgeon is always on the brain and spine as this is the core of their training.
In addition to Neurosurgeons, there are several other doctors that also treat and manage some spinal disorders. These doctors include Orthopedic Surgeons and Pain Management Physicians. All of these doctors help manage painful spinal conditions, however, they all bring something different to the table.
Pain Management Physicians have had training in Anesthesia or Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) or possibly even both. They may have done a fellowship in pain management to further fine-tune their skills. The typical therapies offered by a pain management specialist are likely to include the modification of pain medicines and interventions done via a needle. This would include injections of steroids as well as electrocautery of pain generating nerves.
Orthopedic Surgeons are most similar to Neurosurgeons. Orthopedic training covers a wide spectrum of diseases that includes caring for the spine and other joints in the body. Orthopedic surgeons learn how to fix broken arms and legs, and how to replace a knee or hip. Most Orthopedic Surgeons that focus on spine have had additional training in that area. An orthopedic surgeon is not able to treat disorders or diseases of the brain.
As you can see, there are many different types of doctors that are involved in the care of spinal conditions. These doctors come from different training backgrounds and may have different philosophies and perspectives on the treatment of spinal pain. Additionally, they may have different skill sets and abilities when it comes to treating pain.
There is a great deal of overlap between what each of these physicians can provide. Certainly, if you have a fractured arm or leg, or are in need of a knee or hip replacement, then an Orthopedic Surgeon is an absolute necessity. If you have a brain lesion then a Neurosurgeon is necessary. But what if you have a spine problem? All of these doctors will be able to offer you some recommendations and therapeutic options. However, our belief is that a Neurosurgeon is best qualified to diagnose and treat any painful condition relating to the brain and spine.