What is a neurologist?
A neurologist is a doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating diseases that affect the nervous system. Neurology is the branch of medicine that deals with the study and treatment of disorders of the nervous system. The nervous system is a complex and sophisticated system that regulates and coordinates bodily functions.
The nervous system has two parts:
The central nervous system (CNS): CNS represents the brain and spinal cord.
The peripheral nervous system (PNS): PNS contains all the nerves outside the CNS.
Due to the complex nature of the nervous system, many neurologists focus on treating people or a specific population of people with specific neurological diseases. After completing their residency training, most neurologists will spend a year or more in a fellowship program where they will gain experience in their subspecialty.
Examples of subdivisions in the field of neurology:
- Pediatric or child neurology
- Neurodevelopmental disabilities
- Neuromuscular medicine
- Hospice Neurology and Palliative Care
- Pain drug
- Headache drug
- Sleep drug
- Vascular neurology
- Autonomic disorders
- Brain injury drug
- Neurocritical attention
What conditions do they treat?
Neurologists treat neurological conditions that affect the brain, spinal cord, and nerves. These conditions are:
- Headaches and migraines
- Brain tumors
- Brain aneurysms
- Peripheral neuropathy
- Sleep disorders
- Neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
- Neuromuscular diseases such as mastenia gravis, multiple sclerosis (MS), and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
- Nervous system infections, encephalitis, meningitis, and HIV
What procedures do they do?
Neurologists perform a variety of tests and procedures to diagnose and treat neurological conditions. A neurologist can use a pelvic puncture to collect a sample of cerebrospinal fluid. They can use this approach to help diagnose the following conditions:
- Autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS)
- Bleeding in the brain
Neurologists can also use pelvic puncture to treat conditions that affect the spinal cord. Narcotics, antibiotics, or cancer treatments can be injected with a pelvic puncture needle.
Electromyography: One procedure that a neurologist can perform is EMG. A neurologist can use electromyography (EMG) to assess how a person’s muscles respond to the electrical stimulation of motor neurons, which are specialized nerves that control muscle movements.
During EMG, a specially trained technician inserts small needles into the muscle called electrodes. These electrodes record the different electrical activity that occurs in muscle tissue during movement and at rest. The EMG machine produces an electromyogram, which is a record of this action. Neurologists can use EMG results to diagnose neuromuscular diseases such as myasthenia gravis and ALS.
Electroencephalogram: Neurologists use electroencephalograms (EEGs) to measure and record electrical activity in the brain. Neurons in the brain communicate with other neurons through electrical impulses, which can pick up the EEG. The EEG also tracks brain wave patterns.
During the EEG, a technician places electrodes on the person’s head. These electrodes are connected to a computer that converts technical signals that technicians can view on screen or print on paper. Neurologists can use the EEG results to detect abnormal electrical activity in the brain and diagnose certain conditions:
- Brain tumors
- Trouble sleeping
- Tensilon test
Mastenia gravis is a rare neuromuscular disease that weakens the muscles of the arms and legs. The neurologist may use a blood test called a Tensilon test to diagnose Mastinia gravis.
Tensilon is the brand name for a drug called edrophonium, which inhibits the breakdown of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which stimulates muscle movement. Mastenia Gravis The immune system attacks acetylcholine receptors in muscle, reducing muscle fatigue and muscle mobility.
During a Tensilon test, a neurologist injects a small amount of Tensilon into the bloodstream. Then, they ask the person to do different movements, namely:
- Got up and sat down
- Holding hands above their heads
- Crossing and spreading the legs
The neurologist will continue to give doses of Tensilone each time the person feels tired. If a person notices their strength returning after each Tensilon injection, this indicates that they are more likely to have myasthenia gravis.
When to see a neurologist?
If you have a diagnosed neurological disorder or one of the above symptoms, it’s time to make an appointment to see a neurologist. A specialized team of specialists at Regional Neurological Associates has advanced training in the diagnosis and treatment of neurological disorders, so you can be sure you are receiving professional care.
A primary care physician may refer a patient to a neurologist if they have symptoms that indicate a neurological condition:
- Frequent or severe headache
- Muscular weakness
- Loss of coordination
- Partial or complete paralysis
- Sensory changes that affect the sense of touch, sight, smell, or taste
5 big signs you should see a neurologist
Sleeping Problems: We know that the most obvious causes of sleep problems are having a condition like sleeping too late, sleep apnea or anxiety, nightmares, or others, some sleep problems are neurological disorders. An example of this is narcolepsy, a chronic genetic disorder that has no known cause that affects the body’s central nervous system.
These symptoms may be part of a more neurological disorder. Your primary care physician is a great resource to help you decide whether or not to see a neurologist. However, if your symptoms are severe enough, or you still don’t trust your primary care doctor’s recommendations, you may need to make an appointment with a neurologist.
You have seizures: Seizures are disturbances in your brain. They can cause strange sensations, uncontrollable movements or loss of consciousness. To find the cause, the neurologist can test the brain and obtain images. Sometimes seizures stop when the cause is treated. However, some conditions that cause seizures, such as epilepsy, can be chronic. There are many medications that can prevent or reduce seizures. There are also policies that can help. A neurologist will find the best treatment for you and help you manage the condition.
You have a brain or spinal cord injury: Car accidents fall, and sports injuries can damage your brain or spinal cord. Symptoms depend on the type of injury and the extent of the damage. Brain injuries can cause headaches, dizziness, seizures, and loss of consciousness.
They cause changes in your behavior, thinking, and memory. Spinal cord injuries can cause weakness and numbness. You may also lose mobility below the area of injury. A neurologist can design a treatment plan for your specific condition and coordinate your care. This can include medications, physical therapy, and mental health treatment.
Migraine: Migraine is a type of headache that affects many people. If you have frequent and persistent headaches along with other symptoms, you are suffering from a migraine. Symptoms of migraine:
- Headache on one or both sides of the head
- Headache aggravated by physical exertion
- Pain or throbbing pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Sensitivity to light
- Sensitivity to sounds
- Sensitivity to odors.
According to the American Migraine Foundation, migraine affects 37 million people in the United States and more than 144 million worldwide. If you have migraine symptoms that your primary care provider cannot treat, you should see a neurologist.
Neuropathy: Peripheral neuropathy, commonly known as neuropathy, refers to a group of conditions that affect the peripheral nerves of the body. The peripheral nervous system connects the central nervous system, which is made up of the brain and spinal cord, to the rest of the body. Neuropathy can take many forms, including:
- Chronic pain
- Balance is difficult
- Poor coordination
- Burning sensations
- Numbness, weakness, or tingling in the affected part of the body.
There is a long list of conditions that can cause neuropathy, from autoimmune diseases to vitamin deficiencies. Diabetic neuropathy is a type of neuropathy that many people have heard of and how common diabetes is in the US.