A neurologist is a doctor who deals with diseases of the central and peripheral nervous system. It studies the body’s reactions and reflexes and treats a multitude of diseases that can affect the entire body. What do neurologists do, and what ailments do they treat?
They diagnose diseases that are most often caused by damage to the nervous processes of the body. The central nervous system is primarily the brain and spinal cord – a neurologist examines the causes of symptoms, such as visual disturbances, headaches, and problems with speech or coordination. The neurologist also deals with the peripheral nervous system, which is the connection between the central system and muscles and organs. He studies reflexes and reactions to stimuli and often recognizes the cause of various pains in the pressure on the nerves. Neurology is a branch of science related to psychiatry. That is why a neurologist very often collaborates with neuropsychiatric institutions, where he helps diagnose patients.
The neurologist’s task is also to diagnose problems with concentration and motor coordination and to assess parameters such as proper gait, speech, or feeling.
Based on the medical interview, the neurologist may issue a referral for imaging tests, such as computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging, write a prescription, or refer you for an additional visit to another specialist.
Neurologists also often offer therapeutic intervention such as nerve blocks, trigger-point, botox injections (for migraine and dystonia patients), infusion therapy (for MS, neuromuscular disorders), physical therapy (for pain and various neuromuscular disorders), cognitive therapy (for mild TBI, memory loss and other neurobehaviorial disorders), vestibular therapy (for dizziness). Most of these therapies are performed by the provider or under general supervision of the provider.
A visit to a neurologist and neurological examinations
During the first visit, the neurologist will have to take a detailed medical history. Based on the information obtained, the doctor can proceed to a simple examination of the nervous system.
In many cases, these data are already sufficient material for a diagnosis. If the neurologist is in doubt, he or she may perform additional neurological tests, such as:
- Computed tomography (CT) – is a radiological examination that allows you to assess the health of specific parts of the body. It enables the capture of tumors and abnormalities within the brain, as well as various degenerative changes.
- Magnetic resonance imaging – a non-invasive imaging test that allows you to assess the internal structures of the body; this test is used in the diagnosis of diseases of the central nervous system, as well as in the detection of tumors of the heart, lungs, reproductive organs, and soft tissues.
- Electroencephalography (EEG) – these are performed to evaluate the bioelectrical activity of the brain. Electrodes are placed on the patient’s head to register the activity of neurons in the cerebral cortex.
- Electromyography – allows you to diagnose muscle disorders of nervous origin.
- Nerve Conduction Study – enables the assessment of conduction in peripheral nerves.
- X-ray of the skull and spine – performed when diseases of the peripheral and central nervous system are suspected, and diseases and degenerative changes of the spine.
- Examination of the cerebrospinal fluid – the fluid is collected by performing a lumbar puncture (inserting a puncture needle into the spinal canal); it is analyzed in terms of physical, biological, and chemical characteristics.
What symptoms should make you visit a neurologist?
Many symptoms may indicate a developing neurological disease. Many of them escape our observation, while others are so uncharacteristic that it is impossible to immediately recognise a disease of the nervous system. Symptoms may be the result of an ongoing infection, trauma, lack of specific vitamins, or skeletal degeneration that puts pressure on the nerves. If you are particularly concerned about something, you should pay attention to the following symptoms:
- tingling in the limbs and sensory disturbances
- recurrent muscle stiffness and spasms
- involuntary movements in various forms (tics, excess movements)
- muscle weakness
- sudden deterioration of vision
- chronic headaches and dizziness
- aches and pains affecting various parts of the body
- problems with motor coordination
- balance disorders
- trouble falling asleep
- fainting and loss of consciousness
- rapid deterioration of memory, problems with concentration
Of course, if these symptoms occur from time to time, they are likely the result of overwork, fatigue, or stress. If they are repetitive, you should consult a neurologist. A neurologist most often diagnoses problems such as paralysis of the limbs and paresis in patients. It also treats chronic headaches and dizziness, pains in other parts of the body, and disorders of the movement and speech system.
The main causes of neurological diseases are:
- genetic defects
- vascular disorders
- metabolic diseases
- autoimmune diseases.
A neurologist is a specific doctor who diagnoses and treats diseases related to the central nervous system (CNS); this includes the brain and spinal cord and the peripheral nerve poultice. A neurologist often has to cooperate with specialists in other fields, supervise the plans of rehabilitation activities and consult patients of various hospital departments. We have explained the diseases that neurology deals with, how the neurological examination works and what symptoms indicate the need for it, and when it is necessary to consult a neurologist. Take care of your health!