Orthopedic Spine Surgeon vs. Pain Management Specialist

Category: Back Pain | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: September 21, 2015

orthopedic doctor vs. pain doctor

With so many sub-specialties of medicine, it can be difficult to figure out what kind of medical professional to see for your back pain. In this article, we are going to talk about the similarities and differences between a pain management physician and an orthopedic spine doctor.

Pain Management Specialist

A pain management specialist is a physician trained to treat pain in all its various forms. Pain management doctors are typically not trained to perform surgical procedures – though that is not always the case. These physicians specialize in finding the right treatments for the pain you are experiencing, whether that entails pain injections, pain medications, or other treatments.

Orthopedic Spine Surgeon

An orthopedic spine specialist is a physician trained in the treatment of conditions and injuries impacting the musculoskeletal system. Orthopedic physicians typically sub-specialize in a specific area of the body. There are orthopedic foot & ankle doctors, and orthopedic spine doctors (among others). Orthopedic specialists can perform surgical and non-surgical treatments. This is a big difference when compared to pain management doctors, who are generally not trained to perform surgery.

Who to See?

Choosing the right doctor for your pain will most likely depend on your condition. Most of the time patients will start by seeing a pain management doctor for their back pain. A pain specialist may prescribe pain medications, perform pain injections, or recommend physical therapy for your pain. These are conservative treatment options. Sometimes they work – other times they don’t. Patients generally like to try these treatments first because they want to avoid surgery if possible. If these treatment methods fail to reduce your pain effectively, your pain management doctor may refer you to an orthopedic spine surgeon to evaluate your condition and see if you are a good candidate for minimally invasive surgery.

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