Neurosurgery focuses on surgical techniques to treat the nervous system, which consists of the brain, spinal column, spinal cord, and the network of nerves within these systems.
Neurosurgeons diagnose illness and injury and provide both surgical and non-surgical treatments, including Gamma Knife. The typical neurosurgeon receives extensive training including:
- A four-year undergraduate degree
- Four years in an accredited medical school
- One year in a surgical internship
- Four to seven years in a neurosurgery residency
- Additional fellowship in a particular specialty area
- Ongoing relevant training throughout their practice career
This intense training requirement is the longest period for any medical specialty. Operative Neurosurgery points out that residencies in this specialized field of medicine are extremely competitive with a focus on accepting only the best and brightest candidates. They suggest, “Therefore, most students granted acceptance to a neurosurgical training program are exemplary, generally rank at or near the top of their class, and have board scores in the higher percentiles”.
Patients can confuse neurology for neurosurgery, but it is the surgical component that sets these professionals apart. A neurologist specializes in the diagnosis, treatment, and management of the nervous system and brain conditions, while a neurosurgeon provides surgical treatments to correct these illnesses.
When Should I See a Neurosurgeon?
Typically, patients seek care from a neurosurgeon if they’re experiencing severe illness or pain. Three common signs you should seek care from a neurosurgeon include:
- Chronic back or neck pain
- Dizziness or issues with balance
- Numbness or pain that is atypical
- Unusual headaches or migraines
Back pain can be treated with anti-inflammatory drugs, physical therapy, or other non-surgical treatments. If the condition worsens or is chronic, though, you may seek a referral to a neurosurgeon to consider your surgical options.
Seeing a neurosurgeon may have nothing at all to do with a problem in your brain. In fact, the majority of neurosurgery cases treat back, neck, and leg pain. A neurosurgeon can treat many debilitating conditions such as:
- Chronic neck or arm pain
- Low back pain
- Pinched nerves
John A. Jenkins, M.D., a board-certified neurosurgeon at Orlando Neurosurgery says, “We cover everything associated with neurosurgery.” This includes everything from carpal tunnel symptoms related to spinal disk problems in the neck area to a brain or spine tumor. Orlando Neurosurgery treats strokes associated with hemorrhage or blood vessel abnormalities. Dr. Jenkins says, “We have several neurosurgeons and interventional radiologists in the group that deals specifically with brain aneurysms.” Neurosurgeons also treat illnesses not requiring surgery such as Parkinson’s disease.
What Types of Conditions Can a Neurosurgeon Treat?
Neurosurgeons manage more conditions than many other types of surgical specialties that only focus on a specific organ system. Neurosurgeons can treat congenital conditions in a newborn infant or treat aging abnormalities such as a stroke or degenerative diseases of the spine. They can repair trauma to the brain, spinal column, spinal cord, and the nerves within these critical structures. Seizures, infections, tumors, or neurovascular disorders can all be treated by a neurosurgeon. However, there are subspecialties within the field of neurosurgery, including:
- Functional neurosurgery
- Cerebrovascular/skull base
- Pain and pain management
- Peripheral nerve
The best neurosurgeons have advanced skills in treating all types of nervous system and brain conditions. Highly complex and unusual conditions are business as usual for these skilled providers.
Some of the conditions treated by the neurosurgical team at Orlando Neurosurgery include:
- Acoustic neuroma is a noncancerous and typically slow-growing tumor on the main inner ear nerve leading to the brain
- Arteriovenous malformations are blood vessels that are abnormally tangled and restricting oxygen circulation and blood flow
- Brain aneurysms are abnormal bulging or ballooning within the wall of a blood vessel which must be repaired before they burst
- Brain and spine metastases happen with cancer cells spread from the original location in the body to the brain or spine
- Carpal tunnel syndrome causes the median nerve in the palm side of your hand to compress causing weakness, numbness, and tingling in the extremity
- Chordoma and chondrosarcoma are rare types of cancer that can begin in the bones and spine
- Ependymoma is a type of brain or spinal cord tumor that most often occurs in young children
- Epilepsy is a central nervous system disorder that causes the brain to misfire causing seizures, unusual behavior and sensations, and sometimes a loss of awareness
- Hemifacial spasm affects the nervous system causing the muscles on one side of the face to twitch abnormally
- Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the pathways within the spine that can put pressure on the nerves that reside there
- Trigeminal neuralgia is a chronic pain condition affecting the trigeminal nerve that carries sensation from the face to the brain
Click here to see a more complete list of the illnesses treated by Orlando Neurosurgery. There are many other types of illnesses affecting the sensitive and complex nervous system. Neurosurgeons are there to help treat them.
What’s it Like to Visit a Neurosurgeon?
The caring and experienced team at Orlando Neurosurgery understands you may be scared and concerned when visiting their practice.
Each patient undergoes a thorough consultation, exam, and medical history, along with a careful discussion of the treatment options available to alleviate their condition.
Dr. Jenkins says the benefit of Orlando Neurosurgery is that, “We can provide complete care.” Unlike smaller practices, Orlando Neurosurgery offers the full spectrum of treatments for your spine and neurological conditions.