Neurology is a branch of medicine that deals with diseases of the peripheral and central nervous system. The central nervous system (CNS) is nothing more than the brain and spinal cord, so neurology helps study the causes and treatment of headaches and brain abnormalities. It can be visual, speech, balance, and coordination problems. Therefore, neurology is related to psychiatry, and some diseases are the domain of both. Sometimes a neurologist can also help diagnose back pain since it is caused by pressure on the nerves.
What is connecting neurology and psychiatry? These are related fields, and some diseases are the domain of both the neurologist and the psychiatrist. Neurology deals mainly with diseases that are rooted in the process of damaging the nervous system. While psychiatry primarily deals with diseases caused by a biochemical disturbance of the brain functioning as a whole.
A neurological examination is designed to link the patient’s symptoms and symptom complexes. The doctor who will perform the neurological examination should have extensive knowledge about the structure and functions of the nervous system because he must detect any disorders in a neurological examination. The most important information will help him make a correct diagnosis.
What is a neurological examination, and when is it done?
Patients who plan to visit a neurologist for the first time have some concerns about how the visit to this specialist will work.
Fortunately, the neurological examination is completely painless. Its basis is a thorough medical history and general assessment of the patient’s health; this includes a cranial nerve function assessment, an examination of meningeal symptoms, and an assessment of muscle strength and reflexes.
- The initial stage of the neurological examination
The neurological examination begins immediately when the patient enters the doctor’s office. Then the doctor assesses the gait – in this case, for example, an asymmetric gait may be noticeable. It is also important whether the patient enters the office upright and with the full possibility of maintaining any posture or whether his figure takes a characteristic pose.
- A medical interview is a basic neurological examination
Medical history makes it possible to make assumptions about most of the diseases.
The neurologist not only asks questions about whether specific symptoms are present in the patient but is also interested in how long they have appeared in the patient.
The doctor also asks if the patient has some chronic diseases, takes any medication, had any injuries, or relatives suffered such diseases.
- Overall health assessment during a neurological examination
After the medical history is completed, the neurologist checks blood pressure, examines the abdominal cavity, and auscultates the chest.
- Evaluation of the function of cranial nerves in a neurological examination
During the complete neurological examination, the function of the cranial nerves is assessed. For this purpose, the doctor may ask some questions to make sure that these nerves, which care about the smell, eyeballs, specific areas of the face, ears, or other parts of the body function are assessed.
- Examination of meningeal symptoms
The basic one here is the test of neck stiffness – it is assessed in a patient lying on his back, with his head rising towards the chest. There are also some more characteristics connected with this disease.
- Reflexes testing
A neurological hammer is used to test reflexes. Several of them are examined, including two-headed and three-headed arm reflexes and knee and ankle reflexes. The correct reaction, as well as the increased or decreased reflex, may be observed during these assessments. The test is performed very delicately, and it does not take great strength to see if the patient’s reflexes are correct.
- Apparatus tests
Neurological examinations also include apparatus examinations, e.g. computed tomography, ultrasound techniques, laboratory, and electrophysiological examinations.
The types of neurological disorders
Neurological disorders are often difficult to observe, especially in the case of children who cannot describe what is wrong with them. Therefore, in cases of doubt, it is always worth visiting a doctor who will conduct professional diagnostics. You can be disturbed by frequent headaches and dizziness, visual and speech disturbances, numbness in the limbs, fainting, problems with movement, concentration, and a long depression of mood. What are the most common neurological conditions?
- Frequent migraines. While ordinary headaches happen to most of us, few experience severe migraines. The characteristic acute headache is often associated with vomiting, light and sound discomfort. Migraine sufferers complain of blurred vision and spots in front of their eyes. Migraine headaches are often hereditary.
- Alzheimer’s disease. So far, neither the causes of Alzheimer’s disease nor an effective treatment has been identified. The disease is associated with a gradual, more, and more advanced memory loss. Alzheimer’s patients often feel confused, which can lead to a change of mood, depression, and even aggression.
- Parkinson’s disease. It causes mobility problems. Initially, these are issues with walking, but at an advanced stage, the patient’s movements are completely slow. The body trembles even having a rest, and problems with speech gradually worsen.
- Multiple sclerosis. This is one of the most insidious diseases. It gives different symptoms: fatigue, sometimes visual disturbances, etc., which do not clearly indicate the issue. It mainly affects young people aged 20-40. It is based on the incorrect transmission of nerve impulses; this disease slowly progresses, often leading to disability.
- Epilepsy. The characteristic attacks are caused by violent bioelectrical discharges occurring in the nerve cells. Fortunately, the disease can be diagnosed during the EEG examination. Although there is no cure, an experienced neurologist will find pharmacotherapy that can control seizures.
- Stroke. Both hemorrhagic and ischemic are the result of disturbances in the blood supply to the brain. The disease manifests itself with walking and speaking problems, sometimes paralyzing half the body.
If you notice symptoms in yourself or your loved ones that indicate one of the diseases of the nervous system, we recommend that you urgently contact a neurologist.