What kind of doctors to see for spinal cord injuries

Spinal cord injuries can be life-altering if the spinal column or nerve damage is too extensive. Spinal cord injury victims usually require specialized medical attention from doctors with specific spine treatment qualifications.

Unlike other treatment options, there isn’t one specific medical practitioner for spine treatment. Instead, there are many different specialists who work individually or collectively to help treat spinal conditions and help patients regain control of their bodies. The type of doctor a patient is referred to must have some specialized understanding of the spinal cord issues they are dealing with.

Our team at Brooks Rehabilitation is made up of clinicians and other medical health professionals who treat spinal injuries. All our therapists are board certified experts who go above and beyond to ensure patients receive the best care possible. At Brooks Rehabilitation, we treat all patients like family.


Neurosurgeons are medical doctors who diagnose and treat conditions that affect the nervous system. These include the brain, spinal cord, and nerves. Finding a neurosurgeon who specializes in spinal cord injury can help save patient’s lives, ease their pain, and help them function optimally.

Neurosurgeons also perform nonsurgical treatments by continuously recommending non-operative strategies such as medication and physical therapy before opting for spinal cord surgery.

Orthopedic surgeons

An orthopedic surgeon is the most preferred medical specialist for patients who have suffered spinal cord injury and are experiencing weakness, altered sensations, or other abnormalities around the injured level.

Orthopedic spine surgeons specialize in diagnosing and treating spinal injuries caused by degenerative conditions and trauma-related accidents. Their specialization includes determining which spinal bones have been fractured and the severity of the fractures, diagnosing spinal stability, and working with other specialists to find the best treatment plan for each SCI treatment.

SCI treatments vary depending on the patient’s medical history and the severity of the injury. We recommend seeking immediate medical attention from a qualified orthopedic specialist as soon as a spinal cord injury occurs.


These physicians specialize in physical medicine and patient rehabilitation after a spinal cord injury. Physiatrists address problems such as back pain, shoulder pain, sports injuries, sciatica, work injuries, and chronic pain. A physiatrist is the best medical specialist to help patients with spinal cord injury, stroke, traumatic brain injury, and multiple sclerosis complications.

The physiatrist may order laboratory work, perform electrodiagnostic or imaging studies, and use this data to determine the best treatments for the patient’s SCI. Treatments may include:

  • Therapeutic exercises
  • Physical therapy
  • Massage
  • Counseling
  • Medication
  • Injection
  • Chiropractic treatment

Physiatrists are trained to diagnose where the problem is coming from after an SCI and guide injections or medications for the SCI.

Physical therapists

These SCI treatment specialists play a critical role in the patient’s recovery from spinal cord injury. Finding the right physical therapist can be life-altering, especially if it gives the patient hope of living their best life.

One common multidisciplinary approach for treating SCI is rehabilitation/recreation therapy. This treatment approach involves using multiple health professionals, from nurses to psychologists, physical therapists, and occupational therapists. This team of medical professionals typically works under the advisement of a qualified physical therapist.

The patient’s recovery can occur in the hospital, at a rehabilitation center, or at an SCI-focused specialized facility for round-the-clock monitoring. A great physical therapist should tailor each patient’s rehabilitative treatment based on their goals, injury level, and severity. These may include critical factors like having complete vs. incomplete spinal cord injury or a lumbar SCI vs. cervical SCI.

Chiropractic doctors

Some patients may benefit more from chiropractic treatment depending on the type of spinal cord injury. When performed by a qualified, licensed practitioner, chiropractic care can tremendously reduce neck, joint, and back pain associated with compression, rotation, and hyper-extension injuries following an SCI.

A chiropractic doctor will help speed recovery in mild to moderate spinal cord injuries by helping align the patient’s vertebra in the spinal column. This treatment method helps alleviate pressure on the patient’s spinal cord and improve blood flow, reducing pain and encouraging faster healing.

Chiropractors also perform other techniques to relieve their patient’s pain and improve mobility. The most commonly used chiropractic modalities include:

  • Applied controlled pressure and hands-on adjustments on the patient’s vertebrae
  • Cold and heat treatment on the affected areas to increase blood circulation and reduce inflammation
  • Counseling on nutrition to help the patient’s body to heal from within
  • Lifestyle recommendations
  • Massage therapy to minimize inflammation of tissues surrounding the damaged nerves
  • Recommendations for rehabilitative exercises to strengthen and stretch the spine

Our professional and compassionate team advises all patients to consult with their primary medical advisers before seeking complementary therapies for their spinal cord injuries. This is especially true for patients with more severe spinal cord injuries that may require surgical intervention.


A rheumatologist is another important specialist who helps patients with spinal cord injuries. These doctors diagnose and rule out other rheumatic diseases to help patients know exactly what is contributing to the chronic pain that often follows a spinal cord injury.

Rheumatologists often have a lot of contact with their patients and spend a lot of time following each victim’s individual treatment progression. This segment highlights the core functions of a rheumatologist for treating patients with SCIs:

  • Establishing or confirming the diagnosis
  • Running tests to determine any underlying issues for the patient’s condition and diagnosis
  • Suggesting the best possible treatment options
  • Following up to ensure the patient is receiving treatment and they are working
  • Redesigning treatment modalities if the initial medications need tweaking

Spinal cord injury rehabilitation at Brooks

Currently, there is no cure for spinal cord injury. But there are many promising technological advancements in spinal cord injury treatment. Our highly trained and specialized medical team helps oversee each patient’s progress.

The system of care and comprehensive community programs at Brooks Rehabilitation make us the best choice for SCI patients requiring rehabilitative care. The SCI/D program prioritizes managing individual patients’ ongoing needs by providing everyone with specialized attention focusing on home health and communal reintegration.

Find the best specialists to handle your specific spinal cord injury. Contact our capable team today or visit any of our locations to get a more comprehensive outlook on our SCI programs.

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