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The Differences Between a Neurologist vs. Neurosurgeon

Neurologist on the left side, neurosurgeon on the right

Filled with common misconceptions, many people don’t understand the correlations between a neurologist and a neurosurgeon. Although they come with some similarities, they offer many specialties that are unique to their own.

Both play a vital role, and many aspects of their expertise work together in numerous ways.

Whether it’s the central nervous system or interventions for neurological conditions, neurologists and neurosurgeons are needed for a broad variety of reasons.

This article will break into the differences between the two professions and why both are so important for the health of many people.

What Sets Them Apart?

When you take a look at what neurologists have to offer, you’ll find that they cater to the diagnosis and treatment of disorders pertaining to neurology. This also includes conditions that directly affect the nervous system. Many of their practices include management options that are non-surgical.

Some of these pertain to therapy, lifestyle changes, and medication.

It may sound surface-level, but working with a neurologist can help alleviate the issues of many different medical conditions. Although a neurosurgeon can help in many similar ways, they offer unique expertise that may be required for specific health concerns.

Neurosurgeons are just that, surgeons, and they offer surgical interventions for a long list of neurological conditions. You can find a bullet list containing a handful of neurological conditions down below.

  • Neuromuscular disorders
  • Epilepsy
  • ADD
  • Cerebral palsy
  • And many others

It isn’t uncommon for neurologists and neurosurgeons to work together to develop an optimal outcome for a patient. You can better understand how these medical professionals work together in the next section.

How Do They Work Together?

Collaboration between the two professions can commonly be found in comprehensive treatments for patients. Not only does it provide multiple perspectives, but these perspectives work to achieve the best outcome for the patient in question.

Although they may work together, patients may only need the help of one or the other at the end of the day. In more minor instances, medication may be able to get the job done. However, it isn’t uncommon for issues with the central nervous system and the brain to need a combination of treatments.

Overall, this approach to collaboration is to develop a treatment plan that’s catered to the exact needs of the patient’s condition.

In the same vein, when both professions come together, they’re able to better avoid potential risks along the way.

It’s crucial to understand that even if one professional has an executive decision over the other, it’s common for medical professionals to work together on a patient’s needs.

This is very apparent with this particular topic, as it deals with very sensitive areas of the human body.

These points may be inherently true, but as a patient, you also want to know who to contact first regarding your condition. You can get started by taking stock of your condition and looking at the specific areas these specialties work on.

Which Speciality is Right for Your Needs?

A lot of this question start with your primary care provider. It can be hard to diagnose yourself, but a primary care physician can point you in the right direction. Whether you’re dealing with issues like neuropathy, migraines, or dementia, the type of specialist you work with matters.

With the help of an educated neurologist, you can get an accurate examination of your condition. They can effectively diagnose neurological problems, and examinations may include some of the following processes.

  • Reflex tests
  • Testing coordination
  • Checking speech, strength, and memory
  • Imaging if necessary

Once the results come back from such exams, neurologists can start to work on a personal treatment plan for the patient. If neurologists determine the help of a neurosurgeon is needed, then more testing and examination may be needed.

Not only can neurosurgeons offer an in-depth treatment plan, but they’re capable of emergency surgeries as well. Sometimes they partake in an immediate intervention that considers draining blood, relieving pressure, and working on a variety of critical conditions. Between the two, each profession focuses on core aspects of the patient’s condition.


The focus of this specialty is testing, diagnosing, and creating a treatment plan.


You’ll work with a neurosurgeon for surgical interventions, with some instances being more critical than others.

Patients shouldn’t stress too much over one medical professional or the other. If you’re suffering from pain or a health condition related to the central nervous system, both professions can offer plenty of help.

Although this is true, it’s wise to understand their differences so you don’t waste time getting the help you need at the most important time.

In Summary

The reality is that neurologists and neurosurgeons are very much alike in a few ways. In most cases regarding the central nervous system, both professionals are needed in order to develop a proper treatment plan.