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Neurosurgery: What Do Neurosurgeons Handle?

Neurosurgeons do more than just brain surgery. They work on the entire nervous system from the brain to the spine and other body parts. They treat a lot of painful conditions like low back pain, pinched nerves, sciatica, herniated discs, scoliosis, and more. These conditions can be treated with or without surgery. 

Typically, a neurosurgeon devotes their time diagnosing the symptoms of patients and developing minimally invasive treatment plans. They perform surgery only when other treatment options don’t work. Neurosurgery in Edison, NJ usually takes the conservative approach to illness first when possible. People don’t have to see a neurosurgeon only for life-threatening conditions because these experts also treat common health issues such as pinched nerves, migraines, back pain, chronic pain, epilepsy, and stroke. Although both a neurosurgeon and neurologist can evaluate, diagnose, treat, and manage these disorders, a neurologist cannot perform surgery.

Neurosurgery vs Neurological Treatment

Neurological treatment is given to patients to manage their nervous system disorders. These non-surgical approaches include medications and electrical stimulation treatment, or other types of therapies. Meanwhile, neurosurgery deals with the surgical treatment and rehab of disorders that affect any parts of the nervous system. A neurosurgeon can perform spine surgery as well as address issues such as herniated or bulging discs, neck or back pain because of spinal nerve compression, brain aneurysms, and more. 

When Neurosurgery Is Necessary

  • Managing pain through neurosurgery- Each type of pain a person might endure results from nerve inflammation. For instance, trigeminal neuralgia is a type of pain that occurs because of an inflamed trigeminal nerve. In milder cases, a doctor might prescribe medications and injections to treat the condition or manage pain and other symptoms. But, if the condition resulted from a head or face injury, surgical injury, or swollen blood vessel, surgery might be required.
  • Treating life-threatening headaches- Headaches might occur because of head injuries due to car accidents, falls, or sports-related collisions that result in concussions and skull fractures. In these cases, it will be necessary to remove bone fragments and blood clots from the patient’s brain, as well as repair the broken skull bones. When a headache results from a ruptured aneurysm, surgical clipping or endovascular coiling is often necessary. 
  • Treating peripheral neuropathy- Injuries to the peripheral nerve can impair a person’s sense of balance and ability to perceive pain. Surgery might be necessary to restore function. During the procedure, the damaged end of the impacted nerve is removed. Then, a neurosurgeon will implant a healthy nerve from a part of the patient’s body or reconnect healthy nerve ends. 

Treating cluster headaches and migraines- Although these symptoms are not life-threatening, they can be quite distressing. It is important to determine the underlying cause of the headache or migraine which includes a ruptured aneurysm, hydrocephalus, and brain tumor. Such conditions require surgical intervention. Cluster headaches that do not respond to medications, neurosurgeons might implant an electrode in the hypothalamus, use vagus nerve stimulation, consider noninvasive sphenopalatine ganglion stimulation, and use occipital nerve stimulation to treat them.

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