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Ask the Medical Expert Archives 2000-2004

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Neurologist vs. Neurosurgeon
August 2000

Q. What is the difference between a Neurologist and a Neurosurgeon? Can a neurologist treat Nerves in the feet? Burning sensation?

A. Both neurologists and neurosurgeons are physicians. A neurologist is more like an internist specializing in the nervous system in that he/she doesn't operate. A neurosurgeon operates.

Neurologists deal with problems like seizures, Parkinson's disease, headaches, tremor, and peripheral nerve problems like numbness and burning.

Neurosurgeons deals with problems requiring surgery, like brain tumors and pinched nerves in the spine.

Sometimes it is confusing. For example, a seizure might be caused by a brain tumor, or a surgery for a brain tumor might cause a seizure.

The best place for you to go is your primary care doctor. That doctor can decide if the cause of your burning is something that needs to be treated by a neurosurgeon (highly unlikely), can be treated by the primary care doctor (very likely), or needs to be referred to a neurologist.

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