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A family doctor may be the first stop for back and neck pain; several specialists can help if pain persists or increases.

Medical Specializations

All medical doctors typically complete 5-6 years of medical school, a year-long internship, and five to six years of residency. They may choose to pursue an additional training, a one- or two-year fellowship, in a subspecialty of their field.

Orthopedic Surgery

Orthopedic surgery is the branch of surgery concerned with conditions involving the musculoskeletal system. Orthopedic surgeons use both surgical and nonsurgical means to treat musculoskeletal trauma, sports injuries, degenerative diseases, infections, tumors, and congenital disorders.


Neurosurgery (or neurological surgery) is the medical specialty concerned with the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of disorders which affect any portion of the nervous system including the brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerves.

Physical medicine & rehabilitation

The branch of medicine that deals with the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease and disability by physical means such as manipulation, massage, and exercise, often with the aid of mechanical devices and with the application of heat, cold, electricity, radiation, or water. Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation physicians may also perform electrodiagnostics, which are used to provide nervous system functional information for diagnosis and prognosis for various neuromuscular disorders Physiatrists specialize in restoring optimal function to people with injuries to the muscles, bones, tissues, and nervous system (such as stroke patients)

Pain Management Medicine

Pain management (also called pain medicine or algiatry) is a branch of medicine employing an interdisciplinary approach for easing the suffering and improving the quality of life of those living with pain. Pain management practitioners come from all fields of medicine. Most often, pain fellowship trained physicians are anesthesiologists, neurologists, physiatrists, psychiatrists, or palliative care doctors.

Sports Medicine

Sports medicine is a branch of medicine that deals with physical fitness, treatment and prevention of injuries related to sports and exercise. Specialists in Sports and Exercise Medicine will diagnose and treat any medical conditions which regular exercisers or sports persons encounter, typically musculoskeletal injuries.

Complementary & Alternative Medical Specializations

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is the treatment of disorders with physical agents and methods, such as massage, manipulation, therapeutic exercises, cold, heat (including shortwave, microwave, and ultrasonic diathermy), hydrotherapy, electric stimulation, and light to assist in rehabilitating patients and in restoring normal function after an illness or injury.

Choosing a Spine Surgeon

How Should You Choose A Spine Surgeon?

In general, choose a surgeon who routinely performs and perfects the procedure you need, and whose practice is dedicated to spine surgery. This focus allows a surgeon to be more qualified and current in the latest surgical techniques, further insuring your successful outcome.

A fellowship-trained orthopaedic spine surgeon or neurologist has extended their general orthopaedic study to receive additional training specifically related to the back and neck.

  • Look for a NSR -certified, fellowship-trained surgeon, regardless of whether the doctor is an orthopaedic surgeon or neurosurgeon.

Questions you should ask:

  • Is the surgeon doing mostly spine surgery, or general orthopaedics?
  • Is the surgeon fellowship trained in spine surgery?
  • Is the surgeon trained in minimally-invasive surgery?

Your surgeon should be able to:

  • Make you feel comfortable.
  • Fully explain your diagnosis.
  • Answer all of your questions.
  • Describe the range of options available to you, including non-surgical care alternatives
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