A spine doctor is called a neurosurgeon. Sometimes, physiatrists, who are doctors that specialize in pain, may focus on treating the spine as well.
The spine, or spinal column, is a crucial part of the skeletal system. It is a long, flexible structure made of 33 vertebrae that runs down the center of the back. These vertebrae are separated by discs that act as shock absorbers, protecting the spine from trauma and providing flexibility. If you experience chronic pain or trauma to your spine, you may need to see a spine doctor.
The Four Regions of the Spine
The top region of the spine is called the cervical spine. It is responsible for head, neck, and shoulder movement. It has seven vertebrae and connects the skull to the torso.
Below this is the thoracic spine, which consists of 12 vertebrae and connects the rib cage to the lumbar spine. The ribs attach to the thoracic vertebrae, providing support for the upper body.
The lumbar spine is the lower region of the spine, consisting of five large vertebrae. It connects the pelvis to the thoracic spine and supports the upper body’s weight.
Finally, the sacrum and coccyx make up the lower region of the spine. The sacrum is made up of five vertebrae, and the coccyx is made up of four. The sacrum and coccyx are fused together and support the pelvis and the spine’s muscles and ligaments.
What Is a Spine Doctor?
If you’re experiencing back pain, you might need to see a neurosurgeon or a physiatrist.
A neurosurgeon specializing in back pain is trained to diagnose and treat various neurological conditions related to the spine, including neck and back pain, herniated discs, sciatica, pinched nerves, spinal stenosis, and more. Their job is to identify the source of the pain, relieve symptoms, and improve function. Depending on the case, neurosurgeons may employ a variety of treatments, from medication to physical therapy or surgery.
A physiatrist is a medical doctor who specializes in physical medicine and rehabilitation. Physiatrists diagnose and treat disorders and injuries of the musculoskeletal system using a combination of medical treatments and therapies.
Conditions That May Cause You To Need a Spine Doctor
Both neurosurgeons and physiatrists specialize in restoring physical function and quality of life to patients who have experienced illness, injury, or physical impairments. Here are nine conditions that may cause you to need the care of a spine specialist like a neurosurgeon or physiatrist.
- Spinal stenosis: pressure on the spine caused by spinal canal narrowing, resulting in pain, numbness, and weakness in the legs.
- Cervical radiculopathy: compression of a nerve root in the spine that causes pain, tingling, or weakness in the neck, shoulder, arm, and hand.
- Sciatica: pain radiating from the lower back down the leg, often caused by a herniated disc in the lower back.
- Spondylolisthesis: slippage of a vertebra from its normal position, leading to spine instability, potentially causing pain and muscle spasms.
- Herniated disc: bulging or rupture of an intervertebral disc in the spine causing pain, numbness, and weakness in the surrounding area.
- Spinal cord injury: damage to the spinal cord resulting in loss of sensation or mobility. It can also cause paralysis.
- Myelopathy: nerve damage in the spinal cord leading to various symptoms ranging from numbness and tingling to muscle weakness and incontinence.
- Neuropathy: damage to peripheral nerves resulting in loss of sensation or movement. Neuropathy can cause pain, numbness, burning, and tingling sensations.
- Degenerative disk disease: wear and tear on the spine’s disks over time, leading to pain, stiffness, and other mobility issues.
Treating Spine Pain
If you are suffering from back pain, seeing a doctor can help you find relief. A neurosurgeon will work to identify and diagnose the underlying cause of your pain and develop a treatment plan to reduce your pain. They can discuss options such as physical therapy, medications, or surgery to reduce your symptoms.
A physiatrist can develop a treatment plan tailored to your needs, including medications, physical therapy, exercise, and lifestyle modifications. They can also provide guidance on preventing further damage and reducing your risk of future injury.
Take Control of Your Pain
Don’t continue to experience back pain – schedule an appointment and get on the path to back pain relief today!