What conditions can a neurologist diagnose?

This article will understand the conditions a neurologist can diagnose. It will then discuss the traits of a good neurologist, and the various techniques used by neurologists to understand and study the brain. The article will also talk about the difference between a neurologist and a neurosurgeon. In the end, the article will answer some frequently asked questions. 

What conditions can a neurologist diagnose?

Neurologists are responsible for managing all neurological problems ranging from headaches, and migraines, to more catastrophic diseases like 

  • Alzheimer’s disease: This is a progressive disease that damages memory and other crucial mental functions like critical thinking and problem-solving. It is usually caused when brain cells start degenerating and dying and thus leading to the deterioration of neuronal connections. The main symptoms include memory loss and confusion.
  • Huntington’s disease: This is an inherited condition that causes the neurons in the brain to break down gradually. This disease usually has an onset age between 30 to 40. This disease can result in damage to the progressive movement, deterioration of cognitive thinking, and other psychiatric symptoms like psychosis.
  • Strokes: Strokes are also known as “brain attacks”. Strokes occur when there is a blockage of the supply of blood to a particular part of the brain. Alternatively, it can also occur when a blood vessel ends up bursting in the brain. In either case, a stroke can damage an individual so much that the brain can suffer from long-term disability, and it can sometimes even lead to death.
  • Multiple Sclerosis (MS): MS is a disease in which the person’s immune system starts eating away the protective covering provided to the nerves of the body. This can result in nerve damage and cause disruptions in the communication between the brain and the body. MS includes several symptoms such as loss of vision, pain, extreme fatigue, and problems in coordination. These symptoms can differ in severity and duration from patient to patient. In fact, some people can also remain without any symptoms for the rest of their lives while others may have chronic symptoms that never really go away. Usually, physiotherapy and medication provided by neurologists can help in fighting the symptoms of MS and slow its progression. 

They also diagnose conditions of movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, in this disease, there are unintended and uncontrolled movements. These movements include shaking, trembling, inability to coordinate, and stiffness. This is a brain disorder. The symptoms of this disorder progress over time and get worse. As the disease progresses, patients face difficulty in even walking or talking properly. 

They study infections of the nervous system for instance meningitis or encephalitis. They also diagnose degenerative disorders such as Lou Gehrig’s disease and others. They are also specialised in diagnosing epilepsy and other seizure disorders. 

Neurologists study and diagnose speech and language problems. They also diagnose neuromuscular conditions, such as myasthenia gravis and various spinal cord disorders from congenital issues or traumatic injury

It is widely believed neurologists are involved more in the diagnoses of conditions and don’t play a big role in the treatment for the same. There are various conditions that have not progressed much when it comes to modern medicines. 

However, there has been tremendous growth in the research of neurological conditions and therapies for the same are increasing in number. 

What are the traits of a good neurologist?

A good neurologist enjoys the complexity of neuroscience and using physical examination to make diagnoses and treatment plans for their patients. They also have the following skills:

  • A keen interest and curiosity about the different aspects of the nervous system. Understanding what can and does go wrong in disorders of the nervous system and having a keen determination in finding relevant treatments for the same
  • Strong inquisitiveness skills in order to be able to design, implement, and analyse the results of the research on the disorders of the nervous system
  • Critical thinking in making quick decisions about which tests to administer, why should they be administered, and making diagnoses
  • Good communication skills to be able to interact with patients with neurological disorders, their family members, and clients with who you will have to work in the industry
  • Good scientific writing abilities to be able to contribute to various publications including journals, magazines, and scientific manuals
  • Patience in order to deal with a huge number of cases
  • Courage and ability to work with autonomy and independence
  • Being able to be cooperative to work in teams of psychiatrists, neurosurgeons, and neuropsychologists
  • Motivation to keep reading upcoming and newer discoveries to stay away from relevant trends in order to make the best treatment choices for the patients under the care
  • Having excellent time-management skills
  • Being organised and conscientious

When should I visit a Neurologist?

It is a good time to see a neurologist if you have the following symptoms:

Dizziness

If feelings of dizziness have been interrupting your day-to-day activities, you have to make it a point to see a neurologist. This is especially important if you have difficulty in keeping an intact balance as it could be another underlying condition such as vertigo.

Numbness or tingling

Numbness and tingling are important early risk factors for a serious neurological condition, especially if this is happening only in one place of the body. It could be a sign of an incoming stroke as well. If you experience numbness or tingling suddenly, out of nowhere, then it is a good time to see a neurologist at the earliest.

Movement problems

Movement problems like walking, running, maintaining valance, and feelings of tremors and jerks in your muscles all point to an underlying issue in the nervous system and require you to consult a neurologist.

Memory problems

Being forgetful, noticing unexplained changes in your personality, and difficulty recalling major life events are all early risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease. It is advised to seek advice from a neurologist and to rule the disease out at the earliest.

Chronic or severe headaches

Even though headaches seem normal, if they turn into chronic migraines then it is a good reason to make an appointment with a neurologist at the earliest. This should also be done if the symptoms seem to be related to some neurological deficit.

Chronic pain

Unexplained and unaccounted for chronic body pain cannot be managed and treated by a physician. It can be a sign of an underlying neurological condition and thus it is good to see a neurologist for the same.

Frequently Asked Questions: What conditions can a neurologist diagnose?

What is Cognitive Neuroscience?

Cognitive Neuroscience has its focuses on how the brain is able to make memories, learn the language, and engage in problem-solving. It also focuses on understanding how the brain uses the same. In a way, cognitive neuroscience focuses on how these functions of the brain are used for the survival of the organism. 

What is Neurogenetics?

Neurogenetics focuses on studying how the genes inherited by the individual can have an effect on their brain and their body by exerting influence on their moods and behaviours. 

What is the personality of neurosurgeons and neurologists like?

Neurosurgeons and neurosurgeons have the capacity to manage stressful and pressurizing situations. They like intense intellectual challenges and enjoy the intrinsic rewards that performing advanced life-saving surgeries brings them.

What causes a Stroke?

Strokes can be caused by high blood pressure, hypertension, tobacco use, and diabetes. The symptoms of a stroke are having trouble walking, speaking or understanding speech, and sometimes even paralysis or numbness and tingling on the face, arms, or legs. 

What is Psychology?

Psychology is referred to as the field that scientifically studies the human mind and its functions of the human mind. It specifically focuses on what motivates behaviours and the mental processes underlying it. In essence, psychology is the study of human behaviour. Psychologists use experiments, surveys, systematic observation, and other research methods to uncover the principles of the mind and behaviour. 

References

Armstrong, M. J., & Okun, M. S. (2020). Diagnosis and treatment of Parkinson disease: a review. Jama, 323(6), 548-560.

Bush, A. I. (2003). The metallobiology of Alzheimer’s disease. Trends in neurosciences, 26(4), 207-214.

Hashemi, R. H., Bradley, W. G., & Lisanti, C. J. (2012). MRI: the basics: The Basics. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Poewe, W., Seppi, K., Tanner, C. M., Halliday, G. M., Brundin, P., Volkmann, J., … & Lang, A. E. (2017). Parkinson disease. Nature reviews Disease primers, 3(1), 1-21.

Stahl, S. A. (2002). Different strokes for different folks. Taking sides: Clashing on controversial issues in educational psychology, 98-107.

Walker, F. O. (2007). Huntington’s disease. The Lancet, 369(9557), 218-228.

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