The medical specialty of neurology covers the structure, function and diseases of the brain and nervous system. Read how to find a good neurologist in your area and which diseases belong to the list of neurological diseases.
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Definition: What is neurology
Neurology is a medical specialty and deals with the structure, function and diseases of the nervous system. This consists of two parts..
. the Peripheral Nervous System (PNS)
This includes all nerves, nerve roots and nerve plexuses in the body.
A component of the peripheral nervous system is the autonomic nervous system, which controls the internal organs and unconscious body functions.
Musculature also partly belongs to the field of neurology. Because muscles and nerves function only in a sophisticated interaction. They form an inseparable unit.
Everyone perceives reality differently. How the thinking organ filters and combines so that we can orient ourselves optimally.
And what are neurological diseases?
By definition, neurology is the specialty for the detection and treatment of diseases
– of the brain, such as traumatic brain injury, stroke, or epilepsy, – of the sensory organs (e.g.B. inflammation of the optic nerve, loss of the sense of smell or taste can also have neurological causes), – of the spinal cord, such as a herniated disc, – of the peripheral nerves (including nerve roots and muscles), for example amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), – of the blood vessels of the nervous system (vasculitic neuropathy), – of the immune system and the endocrine system, as far as it affects the nervous system, such as is the case with the autoimmune disease multiple sclerosis (MS), – as well as of the meninges (e.g., amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)).B. meningitis).
The neurologist is the specialist in neurology and diagnoses and treats neurological diseases.
The specialties "Neurology" and "Psychiatry and Psychotherapy used to form the specialty of "Nervenheilkunde" in Germany. Today they are two independent medical disciplines. But the "specialist for psychiatry. Neurology" is often still called "neurologist" called.
Neurological diseases: A-Z list
Which diseases does a neurologist treat? The following list shows examples of common neurological diseases:
Neurological diseases: these are typical symptoms
Neurological diseases cause certain symptoms. Some are clearly recognizable as such – such as unconsciousness, stiffening of the muscles and involuntary twitching of the arms and legs in an epileptic seizure. Others show themselves less clearly. Only come to light during a conversation with a doctor.
In neurology, the doctor therefore looks out for the occurrence of the following signs of the disease.
Some typical neurological symptoms affect coordination and cause Movement disorders (ataxia). Among other things, it comes to:
– Balance disorders – Gait disorders – Weakness and paralysis – Movement disorders (z.B. Movement restrictions or over-movement) – Changes in muscle tone (z.B. muscle weakness, muscle twitching or stiffness of muscles) (tremor) of individual parts of the body, the whole body or the head – certain forms of bladder disorders
In addition to motor complaints, experts in neurology pay attention to symptoms that affect sensitivity, i.e., the perception of external stimuli. Because such sensitivity disorders are also neurological symptoms.
Sensory disturbances show themselves, for example, by:
– a feeling of numbness – sensory disturbances such as tingling on the skin – disturbed perception of temperature – altered perception of pain – altered perception of movement
Some neurological diseases also cause pain. To the Pain symptoms in neurology include, among others:
Neurological diseases sometimes have a considerable influence on consciousness. Therefore it also comes to Disturbances of consciousness. These manifest themselves, for example, in the form of:
– dizziness – loss of consciousness or changes in consciousness – concentration, attention and memory disorders – changes in perception – disturbance of spatial orientation – changes in action planning (z.B. erratic, rash or atypical decisions) – behavioral abnormalities
Frequently, relatives or friends of persons with neurological complaints notice Changes in speech patterns of the affected person. It often comes to:
– changes in speech or language – an altered understanding of speech – a change and/or distinctness of pronunciation – swallowing difficulties, or. a change in the course of swallowing (z.B. due to unilateral paralysis)
What does a neurologist do?
If there is a suspicion of a neurological disease, a specialist in neurology is responsible. First of all, he will have a detailed conversation with the patient – the so-called anamnesis. In the process, the physician asks these questions, among others:
– Which symptoms do you have? – When did the complaints first occur? – Suffering from (chronic) diseases? – Is there an increased incidence of neurological diseases in your family, for example Alzheimer's, Parkinson's or epilepsy?
Based on the medical history, the neurologist can rule out certain clinical pictures and initiate further examinations.
In order to be able to determine a disease of the brain or the nervous system with certainty, various examinations are necessary. The neurologist will go through the steps listed below in sequence. According to his professional assessment, he may order further tests or omit individual examinations.
check of neurological functions
The neurological examination is the next step after the anamnesis to identify failures and disorders of the nervous system. It includes:
The examination of the patient (inspection)
The doctor examines the patient's gait, posture and sense of balance. He will also look for superficial injuries or skin lesions.
An internal examination
Diagnosis of neurological disorders includes, for example, checking the heart function, the large vessels of the neck and taking the pulse.
The examination of the twelve cranial nerves
In the case of brain diseases or injuries, the function of the nerves can suffer. Each cranial nerve has a specific task, which the neurologist checks by means of functional tests. He checks the sensory functions (sight, smell, taste, hearing), examines the eye movements, facial expressions, the swallowing process and the patient's speech.
A reflex test
Reflexes are involuntary reactions of the nervous system to a stimulus. You may be familiar with the patellar tendon reflex? The doctor hits a certain spot on the knee with a small hammer. Triggers the muscle reflex with it: the leg strikes out involuntarily. During this test, the neurologist checks, for example, whether the reflexes are equally pronounced on both sides.
An examination of motor function
Neurologist examines spine, joints, limbs and muscles. He pays attention to the mobility of the joints, the fine motor skills (the affected person should open and close buttons, for example, as a test) as well as paralysis symptoms and muscle tone.
The examination of coordination
The doctor checks the interaction of several muscles. For example, with the aid of target exercises: For example, the patient should touch his nose with his index finger. Speech function, i.e. the movement of the facial muscles, also belongs to this part of the diagnosis in neurological diseases.
A sensitivity test
The neurologist checks the perception of pain and temperature as well as the sensitivity to prere and touch. With a piece of absorbent cotton or cellulose he tickles the patient about. Examines with it the surface sensitivity of the skin. Or he pokes the patient lightly with a pointed object. Checks the sensitivity to pain. The vibration of a tuning fork on different bony prominences helps the doctor to examine the so-called depth sensitivity. It is responsible for sensing the position, posture and movements of the body in space. Various receptors in muscles, joints and tendons transmit this complex information to the brain.
The study of vegetative functions
The autonomic nervous system controls unconscious bodily functions and the function of the internal organs. The doctor checks, for example, breathing as well as digestion, pulse and perspiration.
A test/assessment of cognitive functions
Speech, language comprehension, recognition of shapes and objects, and solving arithmetic problems provide information about the patient's mental functions.
The mental findings
The mental state of the patient also plays a role in neurological diseases. Brain diseases in particular can have an impact on mental health. The neurologist therefore checks the memory as well as the concentration ability of the affected person. Looks for possible changes in consciousness as well as the patient's mood.
Laboratory tests provide clarity
Depending on the doctor's suspicions and on the results of the neurological examination, the attending neurologist may order additional examinations. These advanced diagnostic procedures in neurology are important to confirm the diagnosis and rule out certain diseases.
Various Laboratory tests help in the diagnosis of neurological diseases. Because certain substances can accumulate in the blood, urine or cerebrospinal fluid that provide indications of certain diseases. Additional neurology exams include:
– Blood test – urine test – nerve fluid test (lumbar puncture): The doctor takes a small amount of brain and/or spinal fluid from the spinal canal with a cannula in the area of the lumbar vertebrae. The sample is then examined in the laboratory. Available. They are used to visualize the structures in the brain or the nerve tracts. To detect possible damage or deposits. They are used to visualize the structures in the brain or the nerve tracts. To recognize possible damage or deposits. These include:
When it comes to imaging procedures, the doctor sometimes uses a Contrast agent. This is administered to the patient to make the structures being examined more clearly visible on the images. This makes the diagnosis easier.
– Angiography: With the help of contrast medium, the blood vessels in the brain are made visible so that they can be evaluated on X-ray, CT or MRI images.
The Brain, nerve and muscle function the doctor measures with these procedures:
– Electromyography (EMG, to determine muscle activity) (EEG, to measure brain activity) – Electroneurography (ENG, to record nerve conduction velocity)
Therapy: Neurological treatments
The neurological therapy depends on the underlying disease. Therapies are now available for many neurological diseases. Nevertheless, there are still clinical pictures for which there is no effective treatment to date – they are not curable. In this case, neurological therapy serves to alleviate symptoms. To improve the patient's quality of life.
An example of the improvement of symptoms through neurological therapy is Parkinson's disease. Too little dopamine is released in the brain and this worsens the transmission of nerve stimuli between the brain and muscles. Drugs can partially compensate for this deficiency. The symptoms become weaker. But they cannot cure the disease.
Physiotherapy, on the other hand, leads to an improvement in the quality of life for stroke patients, for example. After the stroke, some physical functions, such as swallowing, are no longer possible. The patient can only eat liquid or pulpy food or, in the worst case, has to be fed artificially. During physiotherapy, the patient can re-learn how to swallow through targeted training. If the therapy is successful, he can eat on his own again – an enormous improvement in quality of life.
Medication is available for many diseases, such as Parkinson's, epilepsy or cluster headaches and migraines.
A distinction is made between drugs that are intended to help in acute cases and drugs that are used permanently to treat the neurological disease.
Depending on the disease and the stage of the disease, the neurologist will prescribe, for example:
Alpha blocker are designed to improve the energy supply to the body's cells. People suffering from Parkinson's disease, for example, benefit from this. Antibodies to prevent migraine attacks , belong to the group of psychotropic drugs and are used, for example, in psychoses Antiepileptic drugs are intended to raise the threshold for epileptic seizures and thus ensure that they occur less frequently.
Surgery helps with some neurological complaints, for example after a stroke. Again, exactly which intervention is considered depends on the underlying disease and its severity. How much the patient suffers from the consequences of the disease? What improvements can doctors achieve through intervention? Is the patient fit enough for (further) surgery?? These are all ies that doctor and patient need to discuss. Together they go through all the treatment options and decide.
The goal of rehabilitation for a neurological disease is for the patient to regain the lost Body functions regained. Learning to cope with the special circumstances of his disease and enabling him to cope with everyday life on his own as far as possible, despite possible permanent restrictions.
For this purpose, various therapy techniques and aids are available in rehab. The exact course of the rehabilitation measure always depends, of course, on the underlying disease and the individual complaints of the patient.
Neurological rehab: What is done?
In neurological rehab, the focus is on maintaining or relearning various bodily functions and abilities.
There are various therapy methods that can be combined in neurological rehab. Some examples:
Cognitive rehab process This is where the patient relearns lost cognitive functions. These include speech, attention, memory and retentiveness. Classic board games. Memory are used for this purpose in rehab. Restorative procedures Stimulation, movement and swallowing exercises are intended to help with restrictions such as gait, swallowing or coordination disorders. One way this works for stroke patients is that other areas of the brain take over all or part of the task of the damaged area. Compensatory methods Changes in posture and movement patterns are thought to reduce the risk of dangerous consequences of neurological disease. For example, epileptics can learn to fall properly if they faint at the beginning of a seizure. This reduces the risk of injury in the event of a fall. Adaptive process The life situation of the patient is changed in such a way that it corresponds to its requirements. For example, a stroke patient with difficulty swallowing is given pureed food that he can eat more easily. This reduces the risk of complications from the swallowing disorder (specifically, for example, that the affected person swallows). Therapy aids such as special drinking cups and cutlery, walking aids or an emergency button for home use serve as support.
So in neurological rehab, patients relearn all the important skills they need for their daily lives. At the same time, the rehabilitation therapy reduces the risk of complications of neurological diseases.