Neurology is the study of the nervous system and the nerves. This includes their function, anatomy and disorders. Neurologists are experts in neurology, and can diagnose, treat and help prevent neurological disorders. The nervous system is very complex, therefore many neurologists specialize in treating a specific demographic or set of disorders.
What tests do neurologists perform?
Lumbar Puncture — A lumbar puncture, also referred to as a spinal tap, is a procedure used to collect and examine the fluid surrounding the brain and the spinal cord. To collect cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), a needle is carefully inserted into the spinal canal in the lumbar area. Lumbar punctures are performed to find the cause of inflammation, bleeding, infections or cancer around the area surrounding the spinal cord or brain.
Electromyography — Electromyography (EMG) is a method with the purpose of evaluating and recording the electrical activity of muscles. The test measures the efficiency and speed of how nerves send electrical signals. Performed using an electromyograph, it produces a record known as an electromyogram. Measuring the electrical activity in nerves and muscles can help uncover diseases such as muscular dystrophy and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
Tensilon Test — Tensilon is a name for edrophonium chloride, a substance given intravenously. Blocking the action of an important neurotransmitter called acetylcholinesterase, it helps prolong muscle stimulation. It can detect myasthenia gravis, a rare condition causing abnormal weakness in certain muscles, or a similar neurological condition.
Electroencephalogram — An electroencephalogram (EEG) is a test that quantifies and documents the electrical activity of the brain. During the test, electrical sensors are attached to the head of the patient and run by wires to a computer. Viewed on a screen or printed on paper, the computer then records the brain’s electrical activity.
Sleep Study — Sleep studies, also known as a Polysomnogram (PSG), are performed on patients who have chronic sleep problems. During a Sleep Study the patient is monitored during sleep and physiological data is electronically recorded. This data is carefully analyzed by a neurologist later. The test is usually performed in a Sleep Lab.
What is the most common neurological disorder?
Neurologists treat neurological conditions that affect the brain, spinal cord, and nerves. These conditions include:
- headaches and migraines
- brain tumors
- brain aneurysms
- peripheral neuropathy
- sleep disorders
- neurodegenerative diseases
- neuromuscular diseases, such as myasthenia gravis, multiple sclerosis(MS), and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
- infections of the nervous system, such as encephalitis,meningitis, and HIV
When should someone see a neurologist?
You Can’t Keep Your Balance — We all take a tumble at one point or another, whether it’s missing a stair or slipping on a wet spot on the kitchen floor. Everyday trips and falls are a part of life, and nothing to call your doctor about. However, if you lose your balance more than the average person or experience bouts of faintness, spinning or dizziness and stumble or fall as a result, a visit to the doctor might be in order.
You Have Sudden And Severe Headaches — Headaches caused by stress, allergies, caffeine or hormones are fairly common, affecting nearly everyone on occasion. Migraines, which impact almost 12 percent of Americans, are severe headaches that cause nausea, sensitivity to light and even vomiting. The occasional headache is not likely cause for concern. But, if severe headaches or migraines develop suddenly, or are very different from normal, they may signal a neurological problem.
Your Vision Changes — Gradual changes in vision can be caused by a number of conditions related specifically to the eyes, like cataracts, glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration. However, not all vision problems originate with the eyes themselves; some are caused by neurological issues.
You’re Easily Confused — It’s human nature to forget small things once in a while, like where you set down your keys. Occasional forgetfulness can be the result of medication, stress or lack of sleep.
But confusion, memory loss and trouble thinking could also signal a major health problem. For one thing, these are all signs of dementia, a group of conditions—including Alzheimer’s disease—that affects thinking, social abilities and memory.
If you or someone you know is affected by a neurological disorder, or believe you might be, come to Houston Neurology and Migraine Center! Our team of kind and professional staff have your health as their primary concern! Contact our office today to speak with a specialist. To schedule an appointment, call us or visit us online!