What Type of Specialist Should I See for My Spine Problem?

There are several categories of spine specialists who treat various conditions. So which one is right for you?

Jan. 7, 2022 4   min read

From chronic conditions to acute injuries, spine problems are treated by specialists on a regular basis. Some of these problems are treated by orthopaedic spine surgeons, while others are treated by neurosurgeons. In some cases, patients experiencing issues with their spine could be treated by either one.

M. Gordon Whitbeck, Jr., MD is an orthopaedic surgeon and Paul K. Maurer, MD, is a neurosurgeon – both with Rochester Regional Health. Both doctors are highly skilled and expertly trained in the latest techniques and provide insight into how their specialties can help patients in need.

Orthopaedic Surgery

Orthopaedics is a surgical specialty focusing on the diagnosis and treatment of injuries and diseases related to the musculoskeletal system as well as to the spine, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves. 

Rochester Regional Health Orthopaedic Spine Surgery specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of the entire spectrum of spinal disorders. These disorders include spinal stenosis, herniated disc, cervical and thoracic myelopathy, radiculopathy, spinal cord injury, spine fractures, spinal deformity (scoliosis & kyphosis), spine infections, and spine tumors. 

“Providers with Rochester Regional Health Orthopaedic Spine Surgery have all completed fellowship training in spine surgery and are committed to providing comprehensive nonsurgical as well as surgical care for patients of all ages with spinal disorders,” Dr. Whitbeck said. “They are highly trained and have a wealth of experience in the surgical treatment of simple and complex spinal pathology.”


Neurology is a medical specialty focusing on the diagnosis and treatment of injuries and disease related to the nervous system - the brain, spine, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves.

The nervous system has two main parts: the central nervous system (brain and spine) and the peripheral nervous system (nerves connecting the brain and spine to the rest of the body).

With Rochester Regional Health Neurosurgery, providers treat a variety of conditions, injuries, and disorders that can affect either part – or both parts – of the nervous system. Ranging from acute to chronic conditions, neurology specialists will provide care for the spine, brain, head, peripheral nerves, pituitary gland, and back.

“Our neurosurgical team is exceptionally skilled and well experienced, performing more than 1,600 successful surgeries each year,” Dr. Maurer said. “We will take a comprehensive look at what you are going through, then work together to determine the best course of action to get you on the road to healing.”

General spine problems

Since there is significant overlap between the specialties, most spine conditions can be treated by either orthopaedic spine surgery or neurosurgery specialists.

Some of those might be:

  • Chronic back pain
  • Herniated discs
  • Low back pain
  • Myelopathy
  • Neck pain
  • Radiculopathy
  • Sciatica
  • Scoliosis
  • Spinal cord compression
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Spinal deformities
  • Spinal fractures and trauma

Ask your primary care provider about which specialty could be right for you. Whether the choice is orthopaedics spine surgery or neurosurgery, Rochester Regional Health is equipped with some of the best trained and most highly qualified providers in the country. You will be in good hands.

M G. Whitbeck, MD
Spine - Rrh, Orthopaedic Surgery
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