Neurology is the branch of medicine that deals with nervous system disorders. Healthcare professionals who treat disorders of the nervous system are called Neurologists.
Neurological surgery is the branch of medicine that provides surgical intervention for disorders of the Nervous system. Surgeons who perform neurological surgery are called neurological surgeons or neurosurgeons.
Neuroradiologists & interventional radiologists specialize in the diagnosis of neurological conditions with the use of imaging, and in the treatment of certain neurologic conditions such as cerebral aneurysms, acute strokes, and vertebral fractures, and biopsies of certain tumors.
Rehabilitation for neurological disorders – It is a branch of medicine that provides rehabilitative care for patients with nervous system disorders. Healthcare professionals working with patients in the rehabilitation process are called physiatrists.
Our nervous system is a complex system that regulates and coordinates our body’s activities. It is divided into
In addition to the brain & the spinal cord, principal organs of the nervous system include:
Vascular disorders: such as stroke, transient ischemic attack (TIA), subarachnoid hemorrhage, subdural hemorrhage, and hematoma, & extradural hemorrhage
Infections: such as meningitis, encephalitis, polio, and epidural abscess
Structural disorders: such as brain or spinal cord injury, Bell’s palsy, cervical spondylosis, carpal tunnel syndrome, brain or spinal cord tumors, peripheral neuropathy, and Guillain-Barré syndrome
Functional disorders: such as headache, epilepsy, dizziness, and neuralgia
Degeneration: such as Parkinson disease, multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Huntington chorea, and Alzheimer disease
Epilepsy: Epilepsy is a neurological disorder in which activity of the nerve cells in the brain is disturbed, causing seizures. It may occur as a result of a genetic disorder or an acquired brain injury, such as a trauma or stroke. During a seizure, a person may experience abnormal behavior, and sensations, including loss of consciousness. Treatment with medication, dietary changes, and lifestyle changes can help cure or control epilepsy. Only rare cases require surgical intervention to control seizures. Some people may require lifetime medication and precautions to control seizures, for some, it may eventually go away.
Strokes: Stroke is a medical emergency wherein the brain tissue is deprived of oxygen and nutrients leading to a degeneration of brain cells. This might be caused by rupturing of a blood vessel in the brain, blocking its blood supply. Prompt action, in this case, can minimize potential complications. Common symptoms of a stroke include difficulty in walking, speaking, or understanding and paralysis or numbness of a side of the body like the face, arm, or leg.
Spine Disorders: The spine consists of 26 bones called vertebrae. These protect and support the spinal cord & nerves. Many conditions and injuries can affect the spine, causing damage to the vertebrae, causing pain, and limiting mobility.
Causes of spine disorders:
Degenerative spinal changes can affect the structure of the spine.
Intervertebral discs usually change with age. Their ability to cushion the joints reduces, and their fibrous outer portions may crack, allowing some of the jelly-like core to protrude. This condition is called a herniated disc. They may also slightly collapse and dry out, a condition called degenerative disc disease.
As cartilage at the joints wears down, the vertebrae or the bony processes at the back of the vertebral arch may rub against one another. This stimulates the growth of bone spurs (extra bone) that may restrict the joints’ range of motion, may cause stiffness and pain and may compress the nerve roots and spinal cord.
Ligaments may thicken, causing stiffness and pain or compressing nerve roots or the spinal cord.
The most common symptoms of a spine disorder are back and neck pain.
Dementia: Dementia is a syndrome in which there is deterioration in memory, thinking, behavior, and the ability to perform everyday activities. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia
Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills and, eventually, the ability to carry out the simplest tasks. Memory loss is a key symptom of Alzheimer’s disease.
People with Alzheimer’s disease may often repeat statements, forget conversations or events, misplace possessions, get lost in familiar places. They eventually start forgetting their family members and have trouble identifying objects and performing basic tasks.
There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease. However, Medications can temporarily improve or slow down the progression of symptoms.
Multiple sclerosis: A disabling disease of the brain & spinal cord wherein the immune system attacks the protective covering of the nerve fibers. This causes problems in communication between the brain and the rest of the body.
Signs & symptoms vary depending on the amount of nerve damage and the specific nerve that has been affected. Some patients may lose their ability to walk independently, while others may experience long periods of relief without any new symptoms.
Common signs & symptoms include numbness or weakness in one or more limbs, the sensation of electric shocks with certain neck movements, tremors, & lack of coordination.
There is no cure for multiple sclerosis. However, treatments can help manage symptoms and speed up recovery from attacks.
Parkinson’s disease: A disorder of the central nervous system that affects movement. Nerve cell damage in the brain causes dopamine levels to drop, causing symptoms like tremors, slow movement, stiffness, and loss of balance. As the disease progresses, people may face difficulty in walking and talking. Other symptoms include fatigue, irregular blood pressure, slowing down digestion, sudden drop in blood pressure when the person stands up. These may lead to problems like depression, sleep disruption, constipation, urinary problems, skin problems.
There is no cure for Parkinson’s disease but medication, surgical intervention, and other therapies can often relieve symptoms or slow down its progression.
DBS or Deep brain stimulation is a surgical procedure meant for those who do not respond well to medications. Electrodes are surgically implanted into part of the brain, connecting to a small electrical device implanted in the chest. The device and electrodes painlessly stimulate the brain, which helps many movement-related symptoms of Parkinson’s like tremors, slowness, and rigidity.
Brain aneurysm: A brain aneurysm is a bulge or ballooning in a blood vessel in the brain. It can leak or rupture, causing bleeding into the brain. A ruptured aneurysm becomes life-threatening and requires prompt medical treatment. A sudden, severe headache, often described as the “worst headache” ever, is a common symptom experienced.
Most brain aneurysms don’t rupture or cause symptoms. These are often detected during tests for other conditions.
Treatment for an unruptured brain aneurysm may prevent a rupture in the future.
Brain tumors: It is a mass or growth of abnormal cells in the brain. Brain tumors can be noncancerous (benign) or cancerous (malignant). They can begin in the brain (primary tumors), or cancer from another part of the body can spread to the brain. The growth rate and location of the brain tumor determine its impact on the functioning of the nervous system.
The signs and symptoms also vary based on the size, location, and growth rate of the tumor.
The common symptoms include:
Common risk factors for primary tumors include:
Exposure to radiation- exposure to ionizing radiation, like radiation therapy for cancer and radiation from atomic bombs.
Family history of brain tumor- family history of genetic syndrome increases the risk of brain tumor
While each individual experiences different symptoms, these are some of the common signs and symptoms of the nervous system disorder.
These symptoms may also refer to other medical conditions. Always consult your healthcare provider for a proper diagnosis.