When it comes to neurological conditions such as say Parkinson’s or epileptic seizures or vertigo or similar chronic illnesses, having clear information of the nervous system issues and complications, from a patients (not just the technical doctor’s language which is often confusing, to say the least) perspective could significantly improve their quality of life, sometimes even aid in delaying the progression of the disease. With over 30 million people in the country affected by a neurological disorder, it’s imperative to gain as much knowledge as you can to combat your disease. Here’s listing the most FAQ’s to help you relate, remember and choose better!
Q1: What does a neurologist treat?
A neurologist treats disorders of the peripheral and central nervous system that affect the brain, cranial nerves, spinal cord, peripheral nerves, autonomic nervous system, nerve roots neuromuscular junction, and muscles. Common neurological disorders are:
- Seizure disorders like epilepsy
- Neuromuscular disorders, such as myasthenia gravis
- Infections of the nervous system that includes encephalitis, meningitis, or brain abscesses
- Stroke, Tumour and Aneurysms
- Multiple sclerosis, sleep disorders
- Headaches and migraine
- Neurodegenerative disorders, like Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease
- Spinal cord disorders include inflammatory and autoimmune disorders
Q2: What does a neuropsychologist treat?
A Neuropsychologist treats neurological problems and the psychological problems that go hand in hand. They conduct evaluations to characterize behavioural and cognitive changes due to central nervous system disorders or an injury, like Parkinson’s disease that often affects the way a person thinks, feel, or behaves. A neuropsychologist treatment may include treating memory difficulties, mood disturbances, learning difficulties, and nervous system dysfunction. For instance, a stroke can affect behaviour, memory, thinking, and other brain functions in an obvious or subtle manner. A neuropsychologist can help determine the degree of stroke impairment you would possibly have and how severe it can be.
Q3: Why do patients need a neurological examination?
Sometimes the neurological conditions are easy to diagnose and treat but it can be attributed to a number of conditions. This may indicate a more complex condition that may be difficult to diagnose. Hence it is important to consult a senior neurologist who specializes in these complex areas. Parkinson’s disease, chronic migraines, meningitis, epilepsy and multiple sclerosis can cause a wide variety of symptoms, such as varying degrees of paralysis in a leg or arm, dizziness or speech problems, muscle weakness, unusual sensations or confusion. So you may need a neurological examination that will have a range of tests to look at all the affected areas of your brain and spine.
Q4: What questions do neurologists ask?
A neurologist may ask you a series of questions to examine your muscle strength, balance, and other functions related to the central nervous system. Such as:
- Medical history and the occurrences of neurological episodes along with psych evaluation (at times)
- You may be asked about the tasks associated with coordination and balance, like walking on a straight line
- Test of reflexes, sensation and some for the autonomic nervous system that controls breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature
- Depending on the complexity of your disease you may be asked to get an MRI
Q5: What are some of the warning signs indicating you should see a neurologist?
Have you ever noticed changes in the way you talk, move, or think? Or having problems with your senses like touch, vision, or smell if so, then it’s always good to listen to your body. Muscle weakness, confusion, dizziness, or having problems with your memory can also be an indication to see a neurologist. It is always important to acknowledge your symptoms if you are feeling off!
Q6: What is the rarest neurological disorder?
Heard of – Duchene muscular dystrophy, and Huntington’s disease?
Huntington’s disease is a rare genetic neurological disorder that damages brain cells, affects the ability to think, move, or behave. It usually affects middle-aged individuals, rendering them unable to live without assistance and eventually leading to death. Whereas, muscular dystrophy (MD) is a group of more than 30 genetic diseases that causes progressive weakness and degeneration of skeletal muscles. It worsens over time with sometimes individuals even losing the ability to walk.
Q7: Can high blood pressure cause a stroke?
Yes, you heard right and here are some numbers to support this – In 2016 the Global Burden of Diseases study reported that 1.63 million deaths occurred in India out of which 57% died of a stroke caused from hypertension! High BP can damage blood vessels, burst or block the arteries that supply oxygen and blood to the brain, thereby, increasing the probability of a stroke.
Q8: How does a neurologist check for nerve damage?
The neurologist will recommend certain non-invasive neurological evaluations like Electromyography (EMG) and Nerve conduction velocity (NCV) testing to check for nerve damage. During this process, a thin needle (electrode) is inserted into the muscles to measure the electrical activity in the brain to determine the extent and the potential cause of the damage.
Q9: What are the major factors for the growth of neurodegenerative disease?
Aging is the primary risk factor for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. 1 in ten individuals’ aged ≥65 years has AD and its prevalence continues to increase with increasing age. Other factors contributing to the degenerative part might be genetic or caused by a medical condition like a tumour or stroke, toxins, chemicals, exposure to virus etc.
Q10: Does the second opinion in neurology work?
Sometimes a second opinion isn’t only appropriate, but it is necessary – it can be a lifesaver! A second opinion specialist will send over a report addressing the specific questions asked during any neurological assessment request. The results of the report may agree with your original diagnosis or may offer additional treatment options. Although neurologists receive an education in a wide variety of conditions, some undergo advanced training in specific areas and go on to specialize in particular fields. Hence a second opinion from these specialists can help you get insight-based treatment options to help you make informed decisions about your healthcare.
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