Neurology is a medical discipline that deals with the diagnosis and treatment of structural and functional changes, and diseases of the central (brain and spinal cord) and peripheral (sensory, motoric and vegetative) nervous system that penetrates the whole body.
The task of the neurologist is to investigate, diagnose and treat the causes of nervous system complaints. If the complaint requires surgery, a neurosurgeon will also be involved in the therapy.
With what symptoms should you see a neurologist?
In the case of neurological diseases, a wide variety of complaints can occur, as damage to the nervous system can also develop as a complication of other diseases. You should see a neurologist if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- long-lasting, extremely severe, or frequent headaches
- balance and movement coordination disorder
- limb numbness
- visual impairment
- vegetative disorders (tremor, palpitation, gastrointestinal complaints)
- memory loss
- disorder of thinking
- memory disorders
What diseases does the neurologist treat?
The neurologist specializes in the treatment of inflammatory, infectious, immunological and degenerative diseases of the central and peripheral nervous system and the cerebral circulation, as well as lesions resulting from nerve injury.
- Headaches: migraine in seizures, usually causing one-sided pain, tension headache with a tire-like, squeezing pain, and a sharp, stabbing cluster headache around the eye.
- Neuropathic pains: tingling, prickly, stinging, electric shock-like feeling, or hypersensitivity to cold/heat, usually in the limbs due to damage to the nervous system.
- Spinal cord lesions: compression of the disc, disc herniation with the involvement of the nervous system, circulatory disorder of the spinal cord with persistent pain.
- Multiple sclerosis: an autoimmune disease in which the body produces antibodies against the myelin sheath that surrounds the nerves in the brain and spinal cord, resulting in inflammation and damage to the nerves. This scarring prevents the muscles from coordinating, and the nerves responsible for muscle strength and sensing from transmitting stimulus over time.
- Cerebral circulatory disorders: develop due to limited cerebral blood flow. It can be caused by a sudden bleeding stroke where blood flowing out of a ruptured blood vessel pushes the brain, and the area supplied by the blood vessel does not receive adequate blood supply. It can also be caused by a bloodless stroke (ischemic stroke) caused by a blood clot.
- Epilepsy: a dysfunction of the brain when electric overactivity (discharge) occurs, in the form of muscle spasm, disorientation. It does not always lead to a spasmodic seizure, an external observer often does not notice anything from the small seizure.
- Movement disorders: tremor, sudden, involuntary movement, decreased muscle tone (dystonia), coordination problems can all indicate a nervous system problem.
- Alzheimer’s disease: a neurodegenerative disease involving damage to nerve cells in the brain, with loss of cognitive function and thinking, dementia, and mental decline. The course of the disease can be slowed by medication.
- Parkinson’s disease: a neurodegenerative disease that causes movement disorders, impairs the ability of nerve cells that affect muscle function to transmit stimulus. The disease causes characteristic symptoms associated with limb tremor, joint stiffness and slowed movement.
The course of the neurological examination
Within the framework of the neurology clinic, the specialist first interviews the patient about their current symptoms, previous illnesses, diseases in the family, and then reviews the previous findings, on the basis of which he establishes the medical history. The neurologist then performs condition assessment tests.
The neurologist checks the patient’s mental state and speech skills with simple questions, and with tasks that require minimal activity, they check the coordination of movement, gait, balance, muscle strength, vision, and other sensory functions. Finally, the neurologist also uses a reflex hammer to check the patient’s reflexes. These check-ups can be used to determine whether the complaint is of nervous system origin, and what additional tests are needed to make a diagnosis.
In order to find out the cause of the complaint, the neurologist can most often order modern imaging examinations (cranial MR, spinal MR, cranial CT, spinal CT, X-ray) or various electrophysiological examinations to examine the brain (electroencephalography, EEG), peripheral nerves (electron neurography, ENG) and the electrical function of the muscles (electromyography, EMG). Since certain diseases show genetic accumulation, laboratory tests may be required.