A spinal surgeon specialises in conditions affecting the spine. There are two types of spinal surgeon, either an orthopaedic surgeon or a neurosurgeon. Both are equally well qualified for surgery. In both specialties, surgeons may subspecialise in a particular section of the spine, such as the cervical (neck) or the lumbar (lower back). Traditionally, orthopaedic spinal surgeons are more likely to conduct spinal deformity surgery for conditions such as scoliosis. Neurosurgeons tend to be more qualified in intradural surgery (surgery inside of the dura in the spinal cord), for issues such as thecal sac tumours.
Before consulting a spinal surgeon, you should first request a physical exam from your primary care doctor or chiropractor. Back and neck pain may pass with time and can be treated through non-operative methods, such as anti-inflammatory drugs and stretching exercises. If the pain persists after a few weeks or months, you should consult a spinal surgeon. The surgeon will conduct an imaging study (through an MRI scan, for example) to determine whether there may be nerve pinching or spinal instability. If the spinal surgeon can identify the cause of the pain through the imaging study, surgery may be performed with your consent.