A primary care physician may be the first stop for back and neck pain; several specialists can help if pain persists or increases.
All medical doctors (MD or DO) in the United States, typically complete four years of college, four years of medical school, a year-long internship, and five to six years of residency. They may choose to pursue an additional training, a one- or two-year fellowship, in a subspecialty of their field.
Neurosurgery (or neurological surgery) is the medical specialty concerned with the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of disorders which affect any portion of the nervous system including the brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerves.
Orthopedic surgery is the branch of surgery concerned with conditions involving the musculoskeletal system. Orthopedic surgeons use both surgical and nonsurgical means to treat musculoskeletal trauma, sports injuries, degenerative diseases, infections, tumors, and congenital disorders.
Physiatry (physical medicine & rehabilitation)
The branch of medicine that deals with the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease and disability by physical means such as manipulation, massage, and exercise, often with the aid of mechanical devices and with the application of heat, cold, electricity, radiation, or water. Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation physicians may also perform electrodiagnostics, which are used to provide nervous system functional information for diagnosis and prognosis for various neuromuscular disorders Physiatrists specialize in restoring optimal function to people with injuries to the muscles, bones, tissues, and nervous system (such as stroke patients)
In the United States, doctors of osteopathic (DO) medicine are physicians (MD) who are also trained in osteopathic manipulative medicine. DOs undergo a similar curriculum as MD with an additional 300 to 500 hours in the study of hands-on manual medicine and the body’s musculoskeletal system. OMT techniques are not necessarily unique to osteopathic medicine; other disciplines, such as physical therapy or chiropractics, use similar techniques. In France, Germany,and Switzerland, osteopathic practitioners are MDs who take additional courses in osteopathy after completing their medical training. In the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, “osteopaths” are trained in osteopathic principles and osteopathic manipulative treatment, but are not physicians.
Pain Management Medicine
Pain management (also called pain medicine or algiatry) is a branch of medicine employing an interdisciplinary approach for easing the suffering and improving the quality of life of those living with pain. Pain management practitioners come from all fields of medicine. Most often, pain fellowship trained physicians are anesthesiologists, neurologists, physiatrists, psychiatrists, or palliative care doctors.
Sports medicine is a branch of medicine that deals with physical fitness, treatment and prevention of injuries related to sports and exercise. Specialists in Sports and Exercise Medicine will diagnose and treat any medical conditions which regular exercisers or sports persons encounter, typically musculoskeletal injuries.
Complementary & Alternative Medical Specializations
These specializations typically require a four-year college degree and possibly a first professional degree or master degree.
Physical therapy is the treatment of disorders with physical agents and methods, such as massage, manipulation, therapeutic exercises, cold, heat (including shortwave, microwave, and ultrasonic diathermy), hydrotherapy, electric stimulation, and light to assist in rehabilitating patients and in restoring normal function after an illness or injury.
Chiropractic emphasizes diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mechanical disorders of the musculoskeletal system, especially the spine. The main chiropractic treatment technique involves manual therapy, including manipulation of the spine, other joints, and soft tissues.