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What is neurology?

Neurology is the branch of medicine that deals with the diagnosis and non-surgical treatment and management of disorders of the brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerves and muscles.

What do I do as a neurologist?

The main part in finding the correct diagnosis is the patient-oriented conversation with you and the comprehensive physical examination according to your complaints. As a neurologist, I perform neurological examinations of the nerves of the head and neck. I test muscle strength, movement, balance, ambulation, and reflexes as well as sensation, memory, speech, language, and other cognitive abilities.

Some of the more common disorders that I as a neurologist diagnose and treat include:

Headaches are a common phenomenon and often harmless. Classifying headaches as primary (migraine, tension-type or cluster) or secondary can facilitate evaluation and management. A detailed history and a thorough neurological examination help to distinguish among the different types.

Common causes of vertigo include Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV), which is an intense, brief episode of vertigo immediately following a change in position of the head. Dizziness can be linked to a wide array of problems and a detailed history and thorough neurological examination is required.

Alzheimer disease is the most common type of dementia. The most common findings include short-term memory loss, word recall difficulty and temporal and spatial disorientation. In a patient with vascular risk factors or disease who presents with stepwise cognitive decline associated with focal neurological signs and early gait difficulties vascular dementia should be considered. It is critical to distinguish among different types of dementias, delirium and depression because each has distinct pathophysiology and requires specific management.

Parkinsonism refers to any condition that causes a combination of movement abnormalities such as tremors, slow movement, impaired speech, muscle stiffness, balance problems or frequent falls. It is critical to differentiate Parkinson’s disease from other conditions. A thorough history, clinical examinations and further tests are often required.

The vast majority of patients have nonspecific neck or lower back pain, meaning there is no specific underlying condition. However disc herniation may cause damage to a spinal nerve root. Patients present with pain radiating down the arm or leg, sensory loss, weakness, and/or reflex changes consistent with the nerve root involved. Further testing such as EMG and imaging may be required to decide who may be a candidate for invasive therapies.

Signs and symptoms of peripheral neuropathy might include gradual onset of numbness, prickling or tingling in your feet or hands, sharp, throbbing or burning pain, sensitivity to touch, lack of coordination or muscle weakness. Peripheral neuropathy can affect one nerve (mononeuropathy), two or more nerves in different areas (multiple neuropathy) or many nerves (polyneuropathy). Carpal tunnel syndrome is an example of mononeuropathy. Early diagnosis and treatment offer the best chance for controlling symptoms and preventing further damage.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) involves an immune-mediated process in which the immune system attacks and damages certain structures and cells within the central nervous system. Signs and symptoms of MS vary widely and depend on the amount of nerve damage and which nerves are affected. Treatments can help speed recovery from attacks, modify the course of the disease and manage symptoms.

Epilepsy is a central nervous system disorder in which nerve cell activity in the brain becomes disrupted, causing seizures or periods of unusual behavior, sensations and sometimes loss of consciousness. Symptoms vary depending on the type of seizure. Even mild seizures may require treatment because they can be dangerous during activities such as driving or swimming. Treatment with medications can control seizures for about 80 percent of people with epilepsy.

A stroke occurs when the blood supply to part of your brain is interrupted or severely reduced, depriving brain tissue of oxygen and nutrients. Symptoms may be trouble with speaking, walking or seeing or paralysis or numbness of the face, arm or leg. A stroke is a medical emergency. Prompt treatment is crucial. Knowing your stroke risk factors and adopting a healthy lifestyle are the best steps you can take to prevent a stroke.

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