Neurosurgery is a medical specialty that focuses primarily on surgery of the nervous system. It is often associated with brain surgery, but it covers much more than just the brain.
Neurosurgery is the field of medicine that is concerned with the diagnosis, treatment,and prevention of disorders affecting the central nervous system, which includes the brain and spinal cord, and the peripheral nervous system, which involves the nerves in all other parts of the body.
The nervous system is the body’s command center and is responsible for sending messages back and forth between the brain and all parts of the body. It controls everything from bodily processes, such as digestion and breathing, to controlling your movements, thoughts, and automatic responses to situations around you. If there is damage to the nervous system, it can prevent the nervous system from sending or receiving messages and from functioning properly. An injury to a nerve can also result in pain, numbness, tingling, weakness, or an inability to move the affected area.
Nerve damage can occur for a number of different reasons, such as through an injury or trauma, disease,normal aging, stroke, or becoming pinched or compressed. Toxic substances, such as cancer medications, excessive alcohol, or poisonous substances can also result in nerve damage.
What Do Neurosurgeons Do?
Neurosurgeons are medical doctors who have extensive training, education, and experience in all areas of neurosurgery, including the cerebrovascular system, spine and spinal cord, complex neurological disorders, and pain management. Some neurosurgeons may also have completed additional fellowship training in a specialized area, such as minimally invasive spinal surgery. Theywork with patients of all ages and are experienced in dealing with all forms of common and rare neurological conditions.
The role of a neurosurgeon is to diagnose, evaluate, monitor, and treat patients with diseases, injuries, or disorders of the nervous system. They are experts in all areas of neurosurgery, including cranial conditions, tumors, and head injuries, but they are also medically trained specialists who can help patients with conditions such as chronic back and neck pain. These types of surgeons perform many different surgeries, from straightforward cases to highly complicated, lengthy, and challenging procedures. They are also responsible for monitoring patients following surgery to assess for signs of any complications, such as blood clots or other problems.
What Conditions Can Neurosurgeons Treat?
Neurosurgeons treat a wide range of common and uncommon intracranial and spinal conditions. This can include treating patients who may have immediate or life threatening needs or who have a long-term debilitating disorder. Some of the conditions diagnosed and treated by a neurosurgeon include:
- Trauma, such as traumatic brain injuries, spinal injuries, or concussion injuries
- Tumors and cancers
- Spine and nerve-related conditions, such as spinal stenosis, herniated discs, and back and neck pain
- Degenerative conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, arthritis, and degenerative disc disease
- Congenital conditions and myopathies, such as brain malformations and neuromuscular disorders
What Type of Treatments Do Neurosurgeons Provide?
Neurosurgeons have years of advanced training and provide a range of innovative treatments. Thanks to medical and technological advances, many neurosurgeons specialize in minimally invasive neurosurgical procedures and minimally invasive spinal surgery for conditions such as tumors, herniated discs, degenerative disc disease, spinal fractures, and scoliosis.
Minimally invasive surgery utilizes highly specialized and extremely small surgical tools that are inserted through very small openings during the procedure. This results in less trauma and damage to the body than open surgery. These complex medical procedures are associated with less pain, a shorter hospital stay, reduced downtime, and fewer complications, such as infection. The most common minimally invasive neurosurgical procedures include spinal surgeries, such as lumber fusion surgery, lumber decompression surgery, kyphoplasty/vertebroplasty procedures, and posterior cervical foraminotomy.
Do Neurosurgeons Only Perform Surgery?
Although neurosurgeons are highly skilled in carrying out complex surgeries, it is a common misconception that they only treat patients through surgery. The truth is that many symptoms experienced by patients can be treated successfully by using nonsurgical treatments recommended by neurosurgeons. A big part of a neurosurgeons job is to diagnose and evaluate a patient’s condition. They will decide which treatment is most effective for the patient by taking into account different factors, such as the type and severity of the condition, the patient’s age, overall health, and their personal preferences. In most cases, surgery is only considered when all conservative treatments have been fully explored or no longer work. Non-surgical treatments that may be recommended include:
- Physical therapy
- Chiropractic care
- Lifestyle changes, such as losing weight or giving up smoking
- Epidural injections
In addition to diagnosing and treating neurological injuries and disorders, a neurosurgeon may also provide additional services, such as:
- Independent medical evaluations
- Disability determinations
- Management of workers’ compensation cases
- Rule 16 medical records reviews
Common Types of Surgery Performed By a Neurosurgeon
Neurosurgeons perform a vast variety of surgeries to treat and prevent disorders of the nervous system. They have extensive training and experience and treat all forms of cranial conditions, including complex brain tumors and cancers, aneurysms, vascular and brain malformations, traumatic brain injuries, and much more. Intracranial surgery and other types of treatments are customized to a patient’s unique requirements.
Neurosurgeons regularly carry out a range of spine surgeries to treat chronic neck and back problems. Some of the most common procedures include:
- Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) surgery – a procedure to remove a damaged disc in the neck to relieve pressure on nerves. The space is then filled with a bone graft, implant, or cage to eliminate movement between damaged vertebrae in the neck.
- Decompression surgery – to relieve pain caused by pinched nerves due to a herniated disc or spinal stenosis. The two most common surgical approaches for decompression are microdiscectomy, which is a minimally invasive outpatient procedure and a laminectomy, which is open surgery and requires a short hospital stay.
- Artificial disc replacement surgery – a procedure that involves removing worn and damaged spinal discs and replacing them with prosthetic discs to simulate the function of the natural discs.
- Spinal fusion surgery – involves connecting (fusing) two or more of the vertebrae together to improve stability in the spine and to eliminate pain caused by degenerative disc conditions.
- Kyphoplasty/vertebroplasty procedures – minimally invasive surgical procedures to treat spinal compression fractures. The procedures relieve pain, restore normal spinal alignment, and help to prevent further collapse of a fracture.
- Laminoplasty – to treat spinal stenosis that is causing myelopathy. It involves creating an opening in the lamina (the bone that covers the spinal cord) to create more space for the spinal cord and remove pressure on the nerves.
- Posterior cervical foraminotomy– a minimally invasive procedure that enlarges the foramen (the space where the nerve root exits the spinal cord) to relieve nerve root compression in the neck.
When To Visit A Neurosurgeon?
Although neurosurgeons deal with complex and complicated brain surgeries and life-threatening conditions, they can also diagnose and treat common conditions,such as chronic back or neck pain, pinched nerves, migraines, epilepsy, and stroke. You may want to consider a neurosurgeon if you are experiencing persistent symptoms such as:
- Numbness and tingling
- Neuropathic pain, such as sharp, burning, or shooting pain
- Impaired movement
- A weak grip
- Persistent headaches or migraines
A neurosurgeon can evaluate your symptoms and diagnose and treat the root cause of any discomfort you may be experiencing.
Neurosurgeon in Aurora, CO
If you are searching for an expert neurosurgeon, visit Front Range Spine and Neurosurgery for high quality, compassionate care. We specialize in surgical and nonsurgical treatments, includingadvanced microsurgical procedures for a wide range of intracranial and spinal disorders.