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Spine Specialists

Spine Surgeons

 

Spine surgeons are surgical specialists from the specialties of Orthopaedic Surgery and Neurosurgery who are formally trained to perform spinal surgery.

  1. Orthopaedic Surgeons

Orthopaedic Surgeons are specialists in the treatment of bone and joint disease. Since the spine consists of many vertebrae and joints, the spine also falls under the under the umbrella of Orthopaedic Surgery.

Orthopaedic Surgeons undergo specialty training (residency) for at least 5 years after medical school. As part of the residency training they are taught about conservative (non-surgical) and surgical spine care.

Some Orthopaedic Surgeons chose to complete another year of formal training (fellowship) exclusively in Spinal Surgery which is typically 1 extra year of training. Many of these Fellowship trained Orthopaedic Spine Surgeons make spine surgery the main focus of their career.

Board certification is achieved by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery, which is one of the Boards recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties. The American Board of Medical Specialties does not offer a separate Board Certification in Spinal Surgery for Orthopaedic Surgeons.

      2. Neurosurgeons

Neurosurgeons are specialists in the treatment of brain, spinal cord, and nerve diseases. Since the spine contains the spinal cord and many spinal nerves, Neurosurgeons are also formally trained in spinal surgery.

Neurosurgeons undergo at least 6 years of training (residency) following medical school. As part of their training they are also taught conservative (non-surgical) and surgical spine care.

Some Neurosurgeons elect to complete another year of formal training (fellowship) in Spinal Surgery. Some of these Fellowship trained Neurosurgery Spine Surgeons will make spine surgery the main focus of their careers.

Neurosurgeons achieve Board Certification through the American Board of Neurological Surgery, which is recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties. The American Board of Medical Specialties does not offer a separate Board Certification in Spinal Surgery for Neurosurgeons.

       3. Pain Management Specialists

Pain Management spine specialists can come from several different primary (initial) specialties:

a. Anesthesiologists

Anesthesiologists are specialists in anesthetizing patients for surgery who undergo 4 years of formal training (residency) following medical school. As part of their training they are taught nerve blocking procedures for pain control as well as medication management for pain control.

Some Anesthesiologists will complete a formal 1 year Fellowship in Pain Management. As part of the fellowship training they learn about conservative spine care and interventional spine care. Interventional spine care involves injections and other less invasive methods to treat the spine. These specialists will often dedicate their career to Pain Management.

Anesthesiologists who are Fellowship trained in Pain Management can achieve a Board Certification in Pain Management which is recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties.

b. Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Specialists (Physiatrists)

Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Specialists are specialists in treating patients with injuries and disabilities, restoring them to maximum functional potential. They train for 4 years (residency) following medical school. As part of their training, they often learn about interventional procedures as well as medication management to treat chronic pain.

Some Physiatrists will complete formal training in the form of a 1 year Pain Management Fellowship just like Anesthesiologists. As part of that training they will learn about conservative and interventional spine care. Often these Fellowship trained Pain Management specialists will dedicate their career to this specialty.

Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Specialists who are fellowship trained in Pain Management are eligible to achieve Board Certification in Pain Management which is recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties.

c. Neurologists

Neurologists are specialists in the medical (not surgical) treatment of the Neurological System.Neurologists train for 4 years (residency) following medical school.

Neurologists can help in the diagnosis and conservative management of patient with spine disease. Some Neurologists also complete formal 1 year Fellowship in Pain Management similar to Anesthesiologists and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation specialists.

Neurologists who are fellowship trained in Pain Management are eligible for Board Certification in Pain Management recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties.

d. Radiologists

Radiologists are specialists in interpreting and performing radiology procedures. They complete 4 years of formal training (residency) following Medical School.

Some Radiologists are specialized in “Interventional Radiology”. These Radiologists complete a formal Fellowship Training Program in Interventional Radiology where Interventional Pain Management Procedures are taught.

e. Primary Care Pain Physicians

Some Primary Care Physicians specialize in Chronic Pain Management. They may come from the background of Internal Medicine or Family Practice.Their training typically takes 3 years to complete following medical school. Their practice typically includes conservative spine care including chronic medication management.

While these specialists are often Board Certified in their primary specialty, they are not eligible for a Pain Management Board Certification recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties.

 

4. Chiropractic Physicians

Chiropractic physicians specialize in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of the Musculoskeletal System (muscles, bones, joints). Chiropractic physicians are formally trained for 3-4 years after completing a college degree. They can offer conservative spine care as well as manual medicine which consists of manipulation of the spine among other spine treatments.

Chiropractic physicians may achieve Board Certification through the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners. Subspecialty Board Certification also exists for subspecialties such as Chiropractic Neurology, Chiropractic Pediatrics and Chiropractic Neurology.

5. Physical Therapists

Physical therapists are specialists in the rehabilitation of physical impairments and disabilities, with the goal of restoring mobility and function.

Master’s level physical therapists typically train for 2 years following college. A doctorate in physical therapy requires 3 years of formal education following a college degree.

Physical therapists employ many different methods, devices and exercises to restore function.

Physical therapists may achieve Board Certification through the American Board of Physical Therapy.

6. Massage Therapists

Massage therapists are specialists in treating the muscles and connective tissue through manual therapy.

Formal training programs in Massage Therapy can vary in length from months to years.

Massage Therapists may achieve Board Certification through the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork.

7. Acupuncturists

Acupuncturists are specialists in treating disease through the insertion of fine needles through the skin into specific target points for relief of pain and restoration of function.

Formal training for Acupuncturists can vary from months to years. Some physicians also learn and offer acupuncture techniques.

Acupuncturists may achieve Board Certification through the American Board of Medical Acupuncture.