Neurosurgeon vs. Orthopedic Surgeon for Spine Surgery [2020 Update]

An illustration of a portion of the human spine

When it comes spinal surgery, there’s a lot of confusion in the healthcare industry surrounding the difference between a neurosurgeon and an orthopedic surgeon.

That confusion is well-warranted and runs so deep that even referring physicians don’t fully understand the difference between the two professions. 

Both perform spine surgeries, both claim to provide cutting-edge, minimally invasive procedures and both can specialize in the spine. The truth, however, is that the two fields are very different and can provide patients with very different surgical outcomes.

In this article, we’ll explore the similarities and, more importantly, the differences between orthopedic surgeons and neurosurgeons and will help shed some clarity on the unique characteristics of each of these distinct medical professions.

Here is the answer in a nutshell: 

What is the difference between a neurosurgeon and an orthopedic surgeon?

The biggest and most fundamental difference between the two physicians is also the most obvious: orthopedic surgeons and neurosurgeons receive different training in different medical fields.

Indeed, even where these fields happen to overlap, as in the case of orthopedic surgeons and neurosurgeons who both treat the spine, the primary difference between orthopedic surgeons and neurosurgeons will always come down to a difference in training and specialized competence.

How have these two distinct worlds become so intertwined?

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Atlantic Brain and Spine A graduate of both Yale and Stanford, Dr. Jae Lim is a board-certified spine surgeon who specializes in minimally invasive spine surgery and robotic spine surgery, significantly reducing surgical impact and recovery times. (703) 876-4270
8501 Arlington Blvd. Suite 330
Fairfax
Virgina
22031
United States
Jae Y. Lim Ben L. Nguyen