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Difference between a Neurologist and Neurosurgeon

With over 600 neurological disorders affecting the brain, spine, and central & peripheral nervous systems, it is challenging to diagnose an ailment, unless it is done by a specialist. Ranging from headaches to epilepsy, multiple sclerosis to tumors, these ailments fall under the ambit of Neurology. But, what about the increasing specializations in the same medical field? How will a patient come to know which doctor to consult?

If a Neurologist and a Neurosurgeon both specialize in treating disorders and injuries associated with the nervous system, then what is the real difference? Read to know more about their specialization and how to seek the right specialist for your condition.  

Neurologist

According to the American Academy of Neurology, “A neurologist is a medical specialist that has specialization in diagnosing, treating, and managing the nervous system and brain diseases”. An expert neurologist can complement a neurosurgeon’s work with precise diagnoses, using advanced tests such as EEG, CAT scans, and MRI. 

When to see a Neurologist?

A neurologist concentrates on finding complex neurological diagnoses that need to be treated with medication, and therapeutic methods. There are certain signs that you should be aware of, as the body indicates various neurological abnormalities through these symptoms:

· Extreme dizziness

· Memory issues

· Headache

· Muscle fatigue

· Emotional confusion

· Sense of heaviness throughout the head

· Difficulties with body’s equlibrium & balance

· Tingling and other sensations

A neurologist works on diverse conditions that are not limited to migraine or sleep disturbances, and the specialization provides clarity on complex disorders of the nervous system, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, multiple sclerosis, infections of the brain, epilepsy & seizures, tremors, spinal or back injuries, and peripheral nerve disorders. The prime focus of a neurologist is to identify the best approach for diagnosis and provide effective treatment. These days, you can even get expert advice from a neurologist specialized in specific fields of neurology, such as epilepsy care, vascular neurology, pediatric neurology, or pain management.

Neurosurgeon

As the term implies, a neurosurgeon is a highly trained specialist, who performs diagnosis and surgical procedures related to the entire central and peripheral nervous systems. Since neurosurgery is one of the most advanced and challenging areas in modern medicine, the role of a neurosurgeon is more than just conducting surgeries. As a part of the treatment programme, a neurosurgeon will conduct a complete diagnosis, look for non-surgical methods, conduct surgery (if necessary) and plan rehabilitation for the patient. 

When to see a Neurosurgeon?

A neurosurgeon’s key role includes surgical procedures and here are some conditions they may operate on:

· Brain tumor

· Spinal nerve disorders

· Spine tumor

· Stroke

· Clipping

· Herniated discs

· Lumbar puncture

· Craniotomy

· Aneurysm repair

· Degenerative discs

· Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Depending on the patient’s situation, neurosurgeons perform both elective and emergency surgeries. Individuals with severe trauma may be attended to in the emergency room, whereas patients suffering from tumor or disc problems get a planned surgery under specialist supervision.

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Neurologist Vs. Neurosurgeon

Neurologists and neurosurgeons both provide care for a wide range of neurological disorders. A major difference, however, is that you can expect to consult a neurosurgeon on the referral of a neurologist (if surgery is needed to improve the outcome). In many cases, they work together with a specialized team to develop a proper treatment plan that works best for the patient.

Final Thought

While the area of specialization is similar, both neurologists and neurosurgeons have significant distinctions in respect of treatment. Knowing what kind of specialist is best for you is an important part of addressing your health conditions.

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