30th June 2023

Who Treats Back Pain And What Is the Difference Between Them? 

Back pain is a common problem that affects many people, and there are different types of healthcare professionals who can help in its treatment, depending on the root cause. These include spine surgeons, neurosurgeons, physiotherapists, and pain management specialists, of which all but chiropractors can work in a hospital setting. Spine and neuro-surgeons offer both surgical and non-surgical interventions to treat back pain, while physiotherapists, pain management specialists and chiropractors focus on treating back pain through non-surgical methods. 

Healthcare practitioners who offer both surgical and non-surgical treatment for back pain

Spine surgeon

Surgeons who focus on the spine are called spine or spinal surgeons and they treat a wide range of conditions including chronic neck and back pain, sciatica, pinched nerves, degenerative disc disease, herniated (slipped) discs, and spinal deformities such as spinal stenosis. A spine surgeon undergoes extensive training specifically focused on spinal disorders. They have in-depth knowledge of the musculoskeletal system and are experts at performing surgical procedures related to the spine.

Spine surgeons use both surgical and non-surgical methods to treat spinal conditions. Non-surgical methods include physiotherapy, medication, and injections to help with pain. If these methods don’t alleviate the problem, surgical procedures may be required. Spine surgeons are typically the preferred choice when patients have structural problems involving discs, vertebrae (bones of the spine) or spinal joints, and deformities of the spine such as kyphosis.


A neurosurgeon is a consultant who specialises in the management of conditions relating to the central nervous system. The central nervous system is made up of the brain, spinal cord and nerves. These are supported by your spine and arteries which supply them with blood. Because neurosurgeons can also treat the structures (including your spine) which support the nervous system, they sometimes perform spinal surgery. 

Neurosurgeons deal with a broad range of neurological conditions, such as brain tumours and aneurysms. There are also certain spine-related issues that can usually only be treated by a neurosurgeon, some of which are spinal cord tumours, arachnoid cysts, nerve root tumours and conditions involving the lining within the spinal canal. 

The difference between a spine surgeon and a neurosurgeon

There is often confusion around the difference between a neurosurgeon and a spine surgeon.

Both carry out spine surgeries using cutting-edge, minimally invasive procedures and both can specialise in the spine. However, there are some key differences. 

To start with, spine surgeons and neurosurgeons follow different paths in their training. The neurosurgeon’s training focuses on the brain and nervous system, while the spine surgeon’s training focuses on treating the spine.

Their daily work is also different. A neurosurgeon may treat a patient with epilepsy, a patient with a head injury and a patient with a spinal disorder on any given day, while the spine surgeon treats patients with spinal conditions exclusively.

Healthcare practitioners who offer non-surgical treatment for back pain


Physiotherapists may use hands-on therapy, exercise programs, heat or cold therapy and patient education as tools to alleviate pain, improve mobility, and strengthen the back muscles for long-term relief. The physiotherapists who belong to Mater Private Network’s multidisciplinary spine team both help to assess patients and deliver critical pre-and post-operation education and rehabilitation services.  

Pain management specialist

Pain management specialists help patients manage and alleviate their pain, in order to improve their quality of life. They develop individualized treatment plans, which may include medications, procedures such as nerve blocks or injections, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, and psychological support. 


At Mater Private Network, spine surgeons, neurosurgeons, physiotherapists and pain management specialists form part of a multidisciplinary team that collaborates, as needed and appropriate, in the treatment of back pain.

Spine Care

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