What is Neurologist & Neurology?

What is Neurology?

The branch of medicine that is associated with the study and treatment of the diseases of the nervous system is known as Neurology.  It includes both the diagnosis and treatment of all types of conditions and diseases of the central and peripheral nervous system.

 

Who are Neurologists?

A doctor who studies Neurology is called a Neurologist.  A neurologist has specialized training in diagnosing and treating diseases associated with parts of the nervous system, such as brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerves, and muscles. This is why whenever a patient has symptoms that indicate a neurological condition, the primary care doctors refer them to a neurologist.

However, Neurologists are not surgeons and they cannot perform surgeries for any neurological problem. This is because Neurology is a nonsurgical branch specialty. The surgical specialty of Neurology is known as Neurosurgery. The doctors who perform neurological surgeries are known as Neurosurgeons. Sometimes when the neurological problems cannot be cured with the help of any medicine or treatment, the neurologists refer the patients to Neurosurgeons for the required surgeries.

 

What does a Neurologist do?

Neurologists manage and treat neurological conditions or issues with the nervous system. Some symptoms that usually require a neurologist are as follows:

  • Coordination problems
  • Muscle weakness
  • A change in sensation
  • Dizziness

In some cases, Neurologists also treat people who have problems with their senses, such as touch, vision, or smell, because problem with senses may sometimes be associated with nervous system disorders.

Besides these, Neurologists also treat patients with disorders like:

  • Epilepsy or seizure disorders
  • Stroke
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Neuromuscular disorders, such as Myasthenia Gravis
  • Neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and Lou Gehrig’s disease.
  • Spinal cord disorders, such as inflammatory and autoimmune disorder
  • Infections of the nervous system, such as encephalitis, meningitis or brain abscesses
  • Headaches, such as cluster headaches and migraine.

 

Types of Neurologists

A doctor who studies Neurology is called a Neurologist.  A neurologist has specialized training in diagnosing and treating diseases associated with parts of the nervous system, such as brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerves, and muscles.

The nervous system is an intricate and sophisticated system, which regulates and coordinates the different activities of the body. Hence, there are many subspecialties of Neurology.

The different types of neurologists based on the different subspecialties are as follows:

  • Clinical Neurologists
  • Autonomic Neurologists
  • Behavioural Neurologists
  • Neurophysiologists
  • Geriatric Neurologists
  • Pediatric Neurologists
  • Vascular Neurologists
  • Neurodevelopmental and Neuromuscular Neurologists
  • Pain Management and Palliative Care Neurologists

 

Clinical Neurologists

Unlike the neurologists who focus on treating nervous disorders, clinical neurologists focus on diagnosing them. In other words, they are primary diagnosticians.

Nerve signals are sent to the brain, where they are processed as electrical impulses. Neurologists evaluate the neurological function and diagnose neurological deficits with the help of several different tests to monitor these electrical impulses. The evaluation process may comprise of EEGs (electroencephalograms), which measure electrical impulses within the brain, evoked potential tests, which use EEGs to record the brain’s reaction to specific stimuli and electromyography and nerve conduction tests, which detect nerve impulses in the muscle tissues.

 

Autonomic Neurologists

The autonomic neurologists analyse and treat diseases, which affect heartbeats, widening and narrowing of blood vessels and involuntary actions of the body, like breathing and swallowing. They treat people with Adie’s disorder, autoimmune autonomic neuropathy, diabetic autonomic neuropathy, pure autonomic failure, Shy-Drager disorder, orthostatic hypotension, postural tachycardia disorder and hyperhidrosis. Doctors who have specialization in this field must know about the wellbeing and illnesses of the autonomic nervous system, or ANS, interpret and perform laboratory and clinical evaluation of ANS and diagnose people with ANS dysfunctions.

 

Behavioural Neurologists

Behavioural neurologists assess, manage and treat patients with brain issues that alter behaviour. They treat patients with consideration, memory, attention, emotion, language and behavioural problems. Doctors who specialize in behavioural neurology must know pathological and clinical aspects of neural procedures associated with behaviour, insight, emotion and rudimentary neurological functioning. They normally treat syndromes and diseases such as amnesia, dementia, dyslexia, and psychosis and those, which result from traumatic injuries.

 

Neurophysiologists

The neurologists who specialize in the study of neurological diseases are known as neurophysiologists. The discipline of neurophysiology focuses on the treatment of issues of nerves and muscles. Neurophysiologists determine activity of the nerves and neuromuscular damage. They measure the electrical movement of nerve cells in the brain, hence they should have skills in testing devices such as electroencephalography. Neurophysiology practitioners also conduct examinations that incorporate nerve conduction studies and electromyography. Some conditions of particular interest to neurophysiologists are epilepsy, nerve entrapment, stroke, dementia, multiple sclerosis and neuromuscular diseases.

 

Geriatric Neurologists

Geriatric neurologists are the neurologists who are concerned with the determination, treatment and care of neurological conditions which affect elderly people. They additionally specialize in the study of the aging of the central nervous system and its vulnerability to certain neurological disorders. A geriatric neurologist’s focus incorporates Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, gait disorders and Parkinson’s disease and the impacts of medicines on the nervous system. Geriatric neurology overlaps with other neurological specialties, including behavioural neurology and movement disorders. Aspiring neurologists, especially the ones who specialize in disorders linked with aging, will witness greater demand for their skills as the baby boomers age.

 

Pediatric Neurologists

Children may also face neurological problems. The Pediatric Neurologists are the neurologists who treat the neurological problems in youngsters. The nervous systems of children are similar to those of the grown-ups, yet their care requires additional skills. Pediatric neurologists have extra-specialized training in the unique neurological needs of youngsters, with their still-growing and developing brains and nervous systems. Pediatric neurologists’ training overlaps to an extent with neuromuscular neurologists and neurodevelopmental neurologists, on the grounds that those conditions are often found in youngsters.

 

Vascular Neurologists

Issues with the brain’s circulatory system, rather than the nervous system itself bring about some neurological conditions, for example strokes and aneurysms. Vascular neurologists analyse and treat these problems with the help of the advanced imaging from the radiologic lab, and miniature cameras or the instruments, which are embedded through a blood vessel and threaded, into the problematic area. These techniques can be utilized to clear obstructions or repair blood vessels with stents, as well as to evaluate the damage to the patient’s brain.

 

Neurodevelopmental and Neuromuscular Neurologists

The neurologists specialized in Neurodevelopmental and Neuromuscular Neurology are known as Neurodevelopmental and Neuromuscular Neurologists. Various neurological conditions, such as cerebral paralysis and Down syndrome, influence a patient’s long-term development. Patients with these conditions time and again require a lifetime of care, in spite of the fact that neurologists and other specialists can help advanced patients set up at least partial independence. Neuromuscular disorders, for example muscular dystrophy and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, repress a patient’s physical development by meddling with the communication between the nerves and muscles. These conditions cannot be cured, but neurodevelopmental and neuromuscular neurologists can help improve the quality of life of the patient.

 

Pain Management and Palliative Care Neurologists

Neurological deficits may lead to chronic pain, or progressive deterioration of a patient’s mobility and mental capacity. Pain with natural causes can usually be cured by rectifying the basic condition, but neuropathic pain, the pain without an natural reason, created by a malfunction of the nervous system, is less tractable. Some neurologists specialize in pain management, using a blend of medicines and other therapies to help patients deal with their pain levels. For patients with disorders that can’t be successfully treated, neurologists certified in hospice and palliative care can use similar therapies to make their condition more decently tolerable while they’re under care.

Now that we know about the different types of Neurologists, we also need to know that the Neurologists are not surgeons. They do not have the authority to perform surgeries for any neurological problem. The doctors who perform neurological surgeries are known as Neurosurgeons. Sometimes when the neurological problems cannot be cured with the help of any medicine or treatment, the neurologists refer the patients to Neurosurgeons for the required surgeries.

 

Role of Neurologists

A neurologist has specialized training in diagnosing and treating diseases associated with parts of the nervous system, such as brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerves, and muscles.

Symptoms of Neurological problems

Neurologists manage and treat neurological conditions or issues with the nervous system. Some symptoms that usually require a neurologist are as follows:

  • Coordination problems
  • Muscle weakness
  • A change in sensation
  • Dizziness

Types of problems treated by Neurologists

Neurologists treat patients with conditions such as:

  • Epilepsy or seizure disorders
  • Stroke
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Blackouts
  • Peripheral Neuropathy
  • Parkinson’s Disease and other disorders in movement
  • Neuromuscular disorders, such as Myasthenia Gravis and Muscular Dystrophy
  • Neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and Lou Gehrig’s disease.
  • Spinal cord disorders, such as inflammatory and autoimmune disorder
  • Infections of the nervous system, such as encephalitis, meningitis or brain abscesses
  • Brain Tumours
  • Headaches, such as cluster headaches and migraine.

In some cases, Neurologists also treat people who have problems with their senses, such as touch, vision, or smell, because the problem with senses may sometimes be associated with nervous system disorders.

However, Neurologists are not surgeons. The doctors who perform neurological surgeries are known as Neurosurgeons

Different Procedures of Diagnosis

Since the symptoms are different for different disorders, neurologists recommend several procedures to help diagnose or treat a condition. They are as follows:

  • Lumbar Puncture: This procedure is used to check the spinal fluid. This recommended when the symptoms are believed to be caused by a problem in your nervous system.
  • Tensilon Test: This test is used to diagnose Myasthenia Gravis. In this test, a medicine called Tensilon is injected to the patient.
  • Electromyography (EMG): This procedure is done to measure the electrical activity between the brain or spinal cord to the peripheral nerve. EMGs help to diagnose spinal cord diseases and general muscle or nerve dysfunction.
  • Electroencephalogram (EEG): This procedure is used to measure electrical activity in the brain. EEGs are used to diagnose conditions of the brain which include inflammation, tumors, injuries, seizures, and psychiatric disorders.
  • Computed Tomography (CT Scan): This procedure is used to check the soft tissues, blood vessels, and bones in various parts of the body. It helps the neurologists diagnose infections, muscle disorders, and bone fractures, point out the location of tumors, study the blood vessels, guide procedures such as surgeries and biopsies and monitor the effectiveness of treatment.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): This procedure is used to detect several brain conditions including aneurysms, multiple sclerosis, hydrocephalus, tumors etc.
  • Positron Emission Tomography (PET Scan): This procedure is used to check the functioning of the brain. It allows the neurologists to check for cancers, diagnose dementias, and prepare for epilepsy surgeries.
  • Angiography: This procedure is used to determine blockages in blood vessels going to the brain.
  • Sleep Studies: This test is done while a person is fully asleep, to observe the sleep cycle of the patient. This helps to identify if the patient has sleep disorders. Some disorders that can be diagnosed with this test are Sleep apnea, narcolepsy, chronic insomnia and periodic limb movement disorder.

With the help of these procedures, the neurologists diagnose the neurological disorder of the patient and treat them accordingly.

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