A neurologist is recommended in case of organic diseases of the brain, spinal cord, nervous system and muscles. Neurologists treat the whole person and help patients with chronic neurological diseases.
Here are the different typical neurological diseases:
- Cerebral vascular accidents as well as cerebral hemorrhages.
- Multiple sclerosis.
- Parkinson’s disease.
- Disorders of consciousness and memory, dementia.
- Headaches and migraines.
- Sleep disorders.
- Nerve and nerve root diseases, such as carpal tunnel syndrome and spinal disc problems.
- Restless legs syndrome.
- Back pain.
What are the signs that I should see a neurologist?
Discomfort in certain parts of the body, paresis, unsteadiness of standing or gait, loss of consciousness or unusual headaches are all reasons to consult a neurologist. A neurologist should also be consulted if a person suffers from migraines, back pain or other chronic pain. It should be noted that individuals may experience or perceive very different symptoms.
Dizziness, changes in hearing and speech, loss of vision – neurological symptoms can affect all sensory organs in the body. Tremors, muscle stiffness, muscle weakness, and back pain radiating to the legs and arms should be investigated.
The onset of dementia can manifest as confusion, increasing forgetfulness, loss of daily abilities, and behavioral changes. At first, the person suffers from short-term memory lapses and disorientation. Often, people affected by the disease tend to withdraw into themselves to hide their state of weakness.
What is the role of the neurologist?
He discusses the patient’s symptoms in detail (documenting his medical history) in order to make an overall assessment. During a head-to-toe clinical neurological examination, the neurologist looks for outward symptoms and tests nerve reflexes, paying attention to the person’s gait and posture to determine if there is a disorder affecting their ability of balance. The examination can also identify changes in the skin and muscles, as well as injuries (falls).
The human being has 12 cranial nerves. The functioning of these nerves can be impaired in the event of diseases, injuries or inflammation of the brain. As each cranial nerve has a very specific function, it can be examined using functional tests (smell, taste, vision, sound, facial muscles, etc.). During a neurological examination, the doctor will also regularly test the person’s mental and psychological abilities. A memory test may also be performed if there appear to be any abnormalities.
Depending on the results, additional diagnostics may be performed, including laboratory blood and urine tests, or taking cerebrospinal fluid from the spinal canal (lumbar puncture).
- NCV: measurement of nerve conduction velocity.
- EEG: Measurement of brain waves (electroencephalography).
- EMG: measurement of muscle activity (electromyography).
- Evoked potentials: Every sensory stimulus in the body triggers brain activity that can be measured.
- Doppler and duplex ultrasound: Ultrasonic examinations of vessels and the brain.
- CT, MRI, PET: other brain imaging methods
- Dementia testing
After carrying out the necessary examinations on a case-by-case basis, it is usually possible to diagnose one of the aforementioned neurological diseases as the cause.
If, for example, it turns out to be a circulation disorder in the brain (stroke), regular monitoring of risk factors and brain vessels (ultrasound) is also necessary as part of subsequent treatment (usually medication).
The procedure is the same if, for example, multiple sclerosis is diagnosed as the cause of the symptoms. Once acute treatment has begun, regular clinical checks and follow-ups with imaging and other preventive treatments are necessary.