In the following, we outline the differences between neurological surgery and spine surgery inour list of the top 7 facts you need to know to feel safe and empowered before your operation.
Fact 1: Neurological Surgery And Spine Surgery—The Numbers
When you’re going in for an operation, you’ll likely need to weigh your options about whether you’re going to choose a neurosurgeon or an orthopedic surgeon.
Fortunately, the vast majority of surgeries can be completed by both neurological surgeons and spine surgeons.
62% of all surgeries completed in 1 year by neurosurgeons are spine surgeries – over 1.3 million surgeries in total.
Orthopedic surgeons complete about 29 procedures every month, and the majority of orthopedic surgeons work within private practices.
Both are certified by their respective boards, but there is not yet an overarching board related to spine specialty.
Neurosurgeons train for between 6-7 years after medical school, and orthopedic surgeons train for an additional 4-5 years after medical school.
The takeaway here? No matter which option you choose, both types of surgeons will have had lots of experience in the field of spine surgery—one not necessarily better than the other.
Fact 2: What Are The Most Common Reasons For Spine Surgery?
Most patients need spine surgery to heal:
- Herniated discs
- Spinal Deformities
- Spinal Stenosis
- Spinal Instability
In most cases, spinal surgery is the “last resort” after all other treatment options have been exhausted for those whose quality of life is significantly on the decline due to spinal problems.
If you begin having severe weakness in your legs and arms, notice problems with bladder function and control, or have persistent pain, talk to your specialist right away.
Fact 3: What Are The Main Differences Between Neurological Surgery And Spine Surgery?
As we stated above, there aren’t as many major differences between these two types of surgeons as one might initially suspect.
Neurosurgeons are either Medical Doctors or Osteopathic Doctors of Medicine. They are trained to diagnose and treat disorders of the spine and spinal cord, the brain, the nerves, and intracranial and intraspinal vasculature.
They usually have a specialization in brain surgery, spine surgery, or occasionally both.
Neurosurgeons are usually the most qualified option when it comes to intradural surgery (that’s surgery inside your spinal cord’s dura) like thecal sac tumors.
Orthopedic surgeons may also be Medical Doctors or Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine,and their residencies usually focus on treating musculoskeletal conditions. They’re also experts in lots of bone and joint disorders such as arthritis, bone tumors, hand injuries, joint replacement, and spinal disorders.
Like neurosurgeons, their practice can focus on a few specific disorders, or only one.
Orthopedic surgeons are usually more qualified to work on spinal deformity issues like scoliosis.
Fact 4: How Much Pain Can I Expect?
Of course, the amount of pain you’ll feel will be influenced by individual pain tolerance and the type of surgery you’re having. How you manage this pain will also depend on your individual experience with surgery.
Likely, your doctor will offer to prescribe medication to help with pain management, but as always, be sure to use it only as directed.
The majority of patients who have undergone spinal surgery say they feel much better, even right after surgery, than they did before the procedure. Usually, you’ll feel the most amount of discomfort in the three or so days immediately following your surgery.
Pre-existing medical conditions can also influence the amount of pain you feel.
Fact 5: What Plans Should I Make For Immediate Aftercare?
How you recover from your surgery will affect the length of recovery, and can prevent you from having to undergo another procedure. For both neurological surgery and spine surgery, make sure you’ve delegated tasks to members of your family.
If your recovery is slated to be especially tough, consider in-home care or a brief stay in a Transitional Care Unit. Of course, if you have children, plan for appropriate childcare.In any case,make sure you have someone to drive you to and from your surgery.
Fact 6: What Are The Most Common Risks of Neurological Surgery And Spine Surgery?
We know you’re concerned about what could go wrong when undergoing spine surgery, but fortunately, certified surgeons are highly unlikely to make a mistake. Still, these risks are one of the reasons why it’s so important to ensure your surgeon is properly certified.
- Leaking of Spinal Fluid
- Requirement of Additional Surgery
These risks also emphasize how crucial it is for you to follow your doctor’s orders to the letter before and after your surgery.
Fact 7: What Will My Recovery Time Be Like?
There’s no single formula that can speed up your recovery time; everyone recovers at a different pace. Plus, recovery time will also be influenced by the extensivenessof your surgery and the issue you needed the surgery to correct.
Factors influencing recovery include:
- Pre-existing medical conditions
- Your attitude and motivation
Recovery periods can range from about 4-6 weeks to 6 months.
Many patients are shy to ask when they can resume sexual activity after spine surgery. For many, when you’re ready to go back to work, you can also get back to work in the bedroom.
Most doctors suggest letting the amount of pain you feel be your guide, but if your doctor has given you a timeline to avoid strenuous activity, follow those same guidelines for when it’s safe to resume intercourse.
Neurological Surgery And Spine Surgery: You’re Ready For Your Procedure
Now that this quick guide has helped you to learn the differences between these types of surgeries, and has informed you about the things they have in common, it’s time for you to talk to your doctor and let his/her opinion influence your final decision.
For more facts, advice, and frequently asked questions about spinal surgery, please keep reading our blog or feel free to contact us.