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General surgery, despite the name, is actually a surgical specialty. General surgeons not only perform surgeries for a wide range of common ailments, but are also responsible for patient care before, during, and after surgery. All surgeons must start their training in general surgery; many then go on to focus on another specialty.
Orthopedics is a medical specialty that focuses on the diagnosis, correction, prevention, and treatment of patients with skeletal deformities – disorders of the bones, joints, muscles, ligaments, tendons, nerves and skin. These elements make up the musculoskeletal system.
Your body’s musculoskeletal system is a complex system of bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles and nerves and allows you to move, work and be active. Once devoted to the care of children with spine and limb deformities, orthopedics now cares for patients of all ages, from newborns with clubfeet, to young athletes requiring arthroscopic surgery, to older people with arthritis.
The physicians who specialize in this area are called orthopedic surgeons or orthopedists.
Back surgery is a procedure that aims to change a patient’s anatomy, such as removing a herniated disc that is causing pain, with the purpose of providing pain relief. Back surgeries vary, with some procedures minimally invasive and allowing for quick recovery and others more extensive and requiring longer recoveries. Lumbar laminectomy and microdiscectomy are just a couple of back surgery examples.
Back surgery may be reasonable for patients whose pain has not diminished after several months of non-surgical treatments, of course when an anatomical lesion has been identified as the source of pain. If no such lesion has been identified, back surgery is not an option, nor is back surgery ever performed to investigate possible causes of pain.