MD - Medical Doctor

An MD is the credentials given to a medical doctor. The MD designation is given to a person who has completed four years of medical school to attain a doctoral degree for physicians. A medical doctor (MD) and a doctor of osteopathy (DO) are the only two types of healthcare professionals who are qualified to prescribe medicine and perform surgery (Nurse Practitioners and physicians assistants may be able to run their own clinics, schedule tests for patients, and prescribe medicine, but they are not qualified to perform surgery). In this article, we will discuss the training that medical doctors go through to obtain their MD degree, the similarities/differences between MDs and Dos, and the types of medical specialists available to patients who suffer from back pain and other musculoskeletal disorders.



The course of education for people who advance from secondary education to the MD degree includes a bachelor degree with a heavy math/science course load, followed by 4 years of medical school. Following medical school, doctors will begin a residency program that usually lasts between 3-5 years. This residency program will involve long workweeks where some doctors work more than 80hours a week. During this residency program, the doctors will work full time in a residency program where they become a specialist in one branch or medicine. Medical doctors working with patients who have back pain, back problems, or other musculoskeletal disorders, may become Rheumatologists, Physiatrists, Neurologists, Orthopedic Surgeons, Rheumatologists, or Radiologists during this period of residency and specialization.

What are the similarities/difference between the Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine or D.O. degree and the M.D. degree in training and practice. As stated above, both professions include 4 year professional degrees following a completion of a BA or BS college, degree, and training and professional certifications to examine patients, order medical tests, read and evaluate medical imaging results, prescribe medications, and perform minimally invasive and major surgeries. D.O. doctors are professionally qualified to work in medical hospitals and clinics, alongside medical doctors or in their own clinics. DOs differ in the distinctive osteopathic philosophy and osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT). Osteopaths take into account the physical and mental health of the patient, and how either aspect could be contributing to the disease state. Dos are also more likely to encourage herbal therapies and other supplementation to treat various health and other musculoskeletal disorders, while most medical doctors consider holistic treatments to be of doubtful benefit.

The medical doctors in the back care and back pain fields specialize patient rehabilitation (Physiatrist), diagnosing neurologic disorders of the spine (neurologist), or disease conditions involved in back pain (Rheumatologist). Orthopedic surgeons and Neurosurgeons specialize in surgical treatments of musculoskeletal and spinal disorders. To become specialized in back and orthopedic surgery, doctors may obtain Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of surgery degrees (MB BS or MB ChB, and several variants). Doctors who perform these surgeries will typically do so only after severally a full course of non-surgical back pain therapies, such as physical therapy and minimally invasive surgery (e.g. lumbar epidural steroid injections, selective nerve root block SNRB).