The Difference Between A Neurologist and A Neurosurgeon

You may have heard the terms neurologist and neurosurgeon used interchangeably, but these are actually two separate positions that help patients with a variety of neurological conditions. In today’s blog, we take a closer look at the difference between these two neurospecialists, and we explain which one might be right for your condition.

Neurologist Vs. Neurosurgeon

Here’s a closer look at the duties and conditions treated by each group.

Neurologists – A neurologist is a physician that treats conditions and diseases of the brain and nervous system. They can work on a wide range of conditions, including but not limited to headaches, sleep disorders, brain tumors, peripheral nerve disorders, Alzheimer’s and multiple sclerosis. However, a neurologist does not perform corrective surgical procedures. Because they don’t perform operations, many neurologists opt to hyperfocus on a specific set of neurological disorders. Instead of being a jack of all trades, many decide to focus on a neurological sub-specialty, like pediatric neurology, vascular neurology or epilepsy care, for example.

A neurologist will undergo four years of pre-med education at a college or university and four years of medical school to earn their MD or DO degree. From there, they will typically do a one-year internship and at least three years of specialty training in a neurology residency program.

Neurosurgeons – As the name implies, a nuerosurgeon is a doctor who treats neurological conditions both with or without surgery. You may assume that neurosurgeon is just another name for a brain surgeon, but that’s not a true assessment either. As you can tell by our blog and website, Dr. Chang is a neurosurgeon that performs corrective surgical procedures on the brain, neck and spine. In fact, most neurosurgeons perform more spinal operations each year than brain operations, so they aren’t just brain surgeons.

Some of the most common conditions that neurosurgeons treat with conservative options or an operation include:

Neurosurgeons perform both elective and emergency surgery, depending on the situation. Patients with disc problems or tumors may schedule their surgery, whereas individuals with severe trauma may be addressed by a neurosurgeon in the emergency room.

A neurosurgeon will follow a similar path in terms of schooling, but it’s even longer. In fact, a neurosurgeon’s education is the longest training period of any medical specialty, and rightfully so. They will do four years of undergrad, four years of medical school, a one-year internship and then residency that can range anywhere from 5-7 years. Following their residency, many pursue fellowship training to specialize in an area like spine care or pediatric neurosurgery.

Dr. Chang is an experienced neurosurgeon who can provide you with conservative care techniques to treat a wealth of neurological conditions, but he also has the expertise to perform an operation should it become necessary. Don’t bounce between neurospecialists when Dr. Chang can provide the highest level of care for your individual needs. For more information or to set up an appointment with his office, reach out to his clinic today at (651) 430-3800.

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