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Neurology

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Neurology is a specialized branch of medicine that deals with injuries, diseases, and disorders affecting the human nervous system.

Neurology is derived from the Greek words neuron meaning “nerves” and logia meaning “the study of” to denote the study of nerves. It is a field of medicine that relies on the understanding of neuroscience for its in-depth understanding of the human nervous system. This forms the basis of diagnosis and treatment in neurology.

The human nervous system comprises two main divisions as follows:

  1. The central nervous system consisting of the brain and the spinal cord.
  2. The peripheral nervous system consists of all nerves outside the brain and spinal cord. This includes the cranial nerves, spinal nerves, peripheral nerves, and neuromuscular junctions.

The nervous system also has subdivisions of the autonomic nervous system, which controls internal organs and glands, and the somatic nervous system that controls our muscles and their movement. Neurology also studies and treats disorders in the blood vessels related to these structures.

A neurologist is a doctor who specializes in the accurate diagnosis and treatment of any disorders that affect the nervous system, be it the brain, spinal cord, or nerves. Common conditions diagnosed and treated include strokes, seizures, migraines, headaches, speech-related issues, and peripheral neuropathy.

While neurologists are also involved in the research and study of the nervous system, conditions requiring surgery are often referred to a surgical specialty known as neurosurgery.

Why Your Doctor Might Refer You to A Neurologist

A general physician can treat a myriad of conditions, both acute and chronic. However, in some cases, you will be referred to a neurologist.  If you are exhibiting some of the following signs and symptoms, it may be a good sign to schedule a visit with a neurologist:

  • Tremors and uncontrolled shaking
  • Cognitive limitations
  • Difficulty in speech
  • Constant headaches
  • Unexplained pain
  • Imbalance issues
  • Various issues with sensory receptors
  • Dizziness and sudden fainting spells
  • Problems with vision
  • Problems with sleep
  • Memory loss
  • Decreased movement functionality
  • Issues with coordination
  • Changing sensations
  • Numbness
  • Fatigue

Many neurological conditions can be extremely painful and even debilitating, but also difficult to diagnose and treat.

There are over 600 different neurological conditions that can affect the human body. Some of the most common conditions researched, diagnosed, and treated by neurologists include:

  • Infections in the central or peripheral nervous system such as encephalitis and meningitis
  • Neurodegenerative diseases and dementias such as Alzheimer’s disease and Lou Gehrig’s disease
  • Cerebrovascular diseases such as strokes and seizures
  • Movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease
  • Autoimmune disorders such as multiple sclerosis
  • Migraines and headaches
  • Traumatic injuries to the nervous system to the nervous system
  • Tremors Gait/Motor difficulties
  • Speech and language disorders
  • Peripheral nerve disease
  • Huntington’s disease
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Dystonia

As the human nervous system is as vast as it is complex, the field of neurology is considered a consultative specialty. For this reason, it is further subdivided into subspecialties. These are often classified as:

  • Neuro-muscular medicine and treatment
  • Brain conditions and disorders
  • Geriatric neurology
  • Pediatric neurology
  • Neurocritical care
  • Neuro-oncology
  • Spine medicine
  • Interventional neuroradiology
  • Movement-related specialties
  • Autonomic disorders
  • Neuro-immunology
  • Vascular medicine
  • Neuro diagnostics
  • Neuro-behavior
  • Neurology clinical research
  • Neurological rehabilitation
  • Neuro infectious diseases
  • Neuro-ophthalmology
  • Neuro-psychology
  • Neuro-psychiatry

What Procedures Does A Neurologist Follow?

Before you go in for your consultation with the neurologist, make a list of all the symptoms you have been experiencing along with the duration of time you’ve experienced them. Also be sure to include any questions you may want to ask the specialist during your visit so that you can develop a good understanding of your condition and it’s treatment.

During your consultation, your neurologist will ask you questions pertinent to:

  • Previous doctors/specialists consulted for the condition
  • Tests previously completed by a physician
  • Your overall health condition and history
  • Signs and symptoms along with their duration
  • Current medications
  • Family health history

The neurologist will then conduct a physical examination that will include an assessment of the following parameters:

  • Coordination
  • Sensation
  • Mental State
  • Strength
  • Sight
  • Reflexes
  • Coordination
  • Sensation
  • Mental State
  • Strength
  • Sight
  • Reflexes

The main aspects assessed during the physical examination include mental status, hearing and vision, cranial nerve function, basic body functions, motor strength and coordination, cognitive abilities, sensory function, gait, and balance.

From the insights gathered from your responses, you may be advised for further tests. These can be in the form of imaging tests and/or diagnostic tests. Some of the potential imaging tests could include “MRIs” or Magnetic Resonance Imaging and a Computed Tomography or a “CAT Scan.”

The diagnostic tests advised could be as follows:

  • Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF) Test — This is a fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. A sample is taken to analyze for infections and disorders.
  • Transcranial Doppler (TCD) — This test uses sound waves to measure the flow of blood in the brain. This is useful for detecting any anomalies related to the brain.
  • Electroencephalogram (EEG) — The neurologist will place electrodes on your scalp to measure the electrical activity in the brain.
  • Biopsy – A small piece of tissue is retrieved for diagnostic testing. This is done to check for possible malignancies.
  • Lumbar Puncture — The neurologist will numb your back and remove a small amount of spinal fluid from the spine. This is done to check for any possible infections or disorders related to the spine.
  • Electromyogram (EMG) — Small needles inserted into muscles to test the neural/electrical activity in the muscle.
  • Tensilon Test — A small amount of tensilon is injected via an intravenous (IV) needle. This is a diagnostic test used to check for a condition called myasthenia gravis, one that affects muscle strength.

Additionally, if the neurologists suspect any specific condition, they may ask for condition-specific tests to be done as well. These may include tests such as polysomnogram, thermography, evoked potentials, and myelography.

What are the Different Types of Neurological (Non-Surgical) Treatments?

Not all neurological conditions require surgery or even minimally invasive procedures to be done. Most neurological disorders and infections are addressed with non-surgical options such as pain medications, rehabilitation, therapy, pain management procedures, along with lifestyle changes. In some cases, minimally invasive procedures such as radiation, nerve stimulation, and spinal cord stimulations may be performed.

  1. Medications — Depending on the specificities of your condition, your neurologist may prescribe medications including anti-seizure drugs, blood thinners (in case of strokes), corticosteroids and disease-modifying drugs (in case of multiple sclerosis), dopamine (for patients with Parkinson’s), clot-busting drugs (in case of an ischemic stroke), immunotherapies (for Guillain-Barre syndrome). Neurologists can also prescribe pain medicine and antidepressants.
  2. Minimally invasive procedures — These include pain management therapies such as spinal cord stimulation, nerve blocks, trigger point injections, and biofeedback. Further, condition-specific procedures will be advised based on the diagnosis. Botox injections may be used for migraines.
  3. Rehabilitation — Physical and occupational therapies are prescribed to improve functionality and mobility. Additionally, you may be asked to work with a speech therapist, a psychiatrist, or any other condition-specific therapist.

Lifestyle changes may be advised, especially in modifications of sleep patterns, diet, exercise, and more. There are also numerous neurological support groups to help in the journey to a more fulfilling lifestyle.

Can Neurological Disease Be Cured?

Several neurological conditions can improve with time and the right treatment, whether they are medical disorders or genetic ones. Some can be managed palliatively; however, there are some degenerative nerve diseases that can be serious, progressive, or even life-threatening. These can include conditions such as:

  • Spinal muscular atrophy
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Lewy body disease
  • Huntington’s disease
  • Friedreich ataxia
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • Alzheimer’s disease

Several of these have no cures and can only be managed symptomatically to improve mobility and functionality. Degenerative nerve diseases can be serious or life-threatening, depending on the type. Many of them have no cure. However, treatments may help improve symptoms, relieve pain, and increase mobility.

At Advanced Pain Care, our focus is on helping you manage your pain, and living a fulfilling life with dignity.

Even the most severe of neurological conditions that affect mental stability (dementias) or movement (ataxia) can be managed, if not cured, to improve the quality of your life.

At Advanced Pain Care, the specialists in the neurology department work in a multidisciplinary manner to provide the best treatment for conditions affecting the brain, spinal cord, spinal column, and central and peripheral nerves. Treatments at Advanced Pain Care are patient-centric and include pharmacologic interventions, physical therapy, rehabilitation, critical care management, and pain management.

Our focus is facilitating the best treatment at the most optimal of costs, so we provide very competitive insurance pay rates. Visit our website for more information on the Neurology specialty at Advanced Pain Care. If you are looking for the best neurologist near you, call 512-244-4272 to schedule a same or next-day appointment with a Neurologist today at any of our locations – we have fifteen locations across the state along with three surgical centers.

FAQS

Q: What are common neurological disorders?

A: Some of the most common conditions researched, diagnosed, and treated by neurologists include:

  • Movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease
  • Cerebrovascular diseases such as strokes and seizures
  • Neurodegenerative diseases and dementias such as Alzheimer’s disease and Lou Gehrig’s disease
  • Autoimmune disorders such as multiple sclerosis
  • Infections in the central or peripheral nervous system such as encephalitis and meningitis
  • Speech and language disorders
  • Peripheral nerve disease
  • Tremors Gait/Motor difficulties
  • Huntington’s disease
  • Dystonia
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Traumatic injuries to the nervous system
  • Migraines and headaches

Q: What is a neurological examination?

A: A neurological examination is conducted to assess your mental status, hearing and vision, cranial nerve function, basic body functions, motor strength and control, cognitive abilities, sensory function, gait, and balance. It is done through symptomatic understanding, physical examinations, imaging tests, and diagnostic tests.

Q: Why do patients need a neurological examination?

A: A neurological examination is performed to check for any disorders, infections, or injuries in the nervous system. Early detection can help mitigate the conditions and reduce severe complications.

Q: How do I prepare for a neurologist clinic visit?

A: Before you go in for your consultation with the neurologist, make a list of all the symptoms you have been experiencing along with their duration. Also, include any questions you may want to ask the specialist during your visit.

Q: When will I receive my test results?

A: This will depend on the types of tests conducted. The administrative staff at Advanced Pain Care will answer all relevant questions at the time of the procedure.