What Is Neurology?
Neurology is a branch of medicine concerned with disorders of the central and peripheral nervous system, their causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment methods.
Hectic modern life, environmental pollution, lack of regular physical activity, chronic stress and diseases are predisposing factors for the development of neurological diseases. With age, the risk of nervous system problems only increases. Also, in recent years, more young people develop neurological disorders.
The Most Common Diseases
There are numerous neurological conditions. They can be caused by:
- nerve cell dysfunction or impaired connection between them;
- inflammation associated with infection or non-infectious causes.
The most common symptoms making people seek a neurologist’s help are headaches and migraines. There are hundreds of causes of headaches, and some of them cannot be classified as neurological. A migraine is characterized by paroxysmal severe headaches that affect a certain area of the head on one side. Migraines are especially common among residents of large cities since they are exposed to chronic stress and the influence of other adverse factors.
Another common problem is various disorders of the autonomic nervous system. They can declare themselves through blood pressure changes, chest pain on the left, rapid fatigability, insomnia, attacks of inexplicable anxiety and fear, weather sensitivity, etc. Autonomic nervous system disorders are quite difficult to diagnose since the symptoms are diverse and can indicate problems with the cardiovascular, respiratory, and many other body systems.
The neurologist also deals with the therapy of osteochondrosis and its complications (disc protrusions and herniation), radiculitis, and brain concussions. The neurologist also helps the patients who faced consequences of neurological conditions (most commonly, stroke and craniocerebral injuries). This specialist is also visited by patients with epilepsy, various memory problems, neuritis, complications of other diseases (for example, with polyneuropathy associated with diabetes). The neurologist’s task is timely diagnosis of brain tumors.
In elderly people, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are common. It is important to notice signs of memory loss and behavior changes early so that therapy is effective, and the disease progression becomes slower.
Neurological Conditions Treatment Methods
If non-surgical treatment does not work for the patient, the neurologist refers them to a neurosurgeon. In foreign medical centers, these two specialists work alongside each other, thus ensuring the best treatment results. The equipment and skill of medical personnel also play an important role. Developed countries have no problems with health care financing, so they have the best equipment for diagnosis and treatment.
Surgery is used for:
- Treating disorders that significantly reduce the quality of life: for example, Parkinson’s disease. In this case, neurostimulation can be used: the therapeutic effect is achieved through electric stimulation of the target brain areas that control movements. Before the operation, each patient undergoes a comprehensive examination in accordance with modern standards.
- Spine conditions. Back surgeries are indicated in case of disc protrusions and herniation, spinal stenosis, or injuries. Congenital spine abnormalities may also require surgical treatment.
- Cerebrovascular diseases. Vascular stenosis, brain aneurysms, and the effects of stroke are the most common. Foreign clinics even have study personnel concerned with surgery for cerebrovascular diseases.
- Brain and spinal tumors. To remove the tumor and prevent its future recurrence, neurosurgeons often work in cooperation with oncologists. They mainly use microsurgical and endoscopic techniques.
- Neurosurgical disorders in children. It is a particularly demanding division of neurosurgery, where the experience and skills of a whole team of professionals are of crucial importance. Pediatric neurosurgeons provide routine and emergency care to children with craniocerebral injuries, tumors, hydrocephalus, congenital malformations of the nervous system, and birth injuries.
- Doctors resort to surgery when non-surgical treatment, which is commonly used to treat epilepsy, is ineffective. If despite proper drug therapy, the patient still has epileptic seizures, and their state does not get better, a council of doctors discusses the possibility of surgery for epilepsy.
Non-surgical treatment methods are widely used to treat neurological diseases. They can be divided into several groups:
- Drug therapy. Specialists use anti-inflammatory drugs, muscle relaxants, hormones, neuroprotective, vitamins, and many other medications in order to alleviate patient’s sufferings. Drug therapy helps relieve pain and other disease symptoms and promotes fast restoration of the nervous system functions.
- Drug-free treatment. Such treatments include special diets, herbal therapy, reflexology, acupuncture, physiotherapy, etc. Remedial gymnastics is a popular method, which includes a set of exercises to restore and consolidate motor skills (for example, after a stroke). Physiotherapy methods, such as laser therapy, magnetotherapy, electrophoresis, and extracorporeal shockwave therapy, have a beneficial effect on the body. The specialist can also prescribe any other method of physiotherapy based on the case history and state of a particular patient.
Non-surgical treatment of neurological diseases is usually long. Throughout the course of treatment, the doctor monitors the patient’s state and the disease progress; the therapy scheme is adjusted for indications. The decision on hospitalization is based on the disease severity, the patient’s age, comorbidities, and many other factors.
Timely diagnosis and treatment of neurological diseases strongly influence the personal prognosis, recovery rate, and rehabilitation efficacy. Nerve cells are able to recover, so even patients with serious illnesses have a chance of a good recovery if there is teamwork of qualified specialists.
An important part of rehabilitation is psychological help and support. Doctors use techniques helping to adapt patients to a new lifestyle, restore lost skills and working capacity, etc. There are specialized centers for the rehabilitation of patients with neurological problems abroad, which employ the best doctors and use advanced techniques. In such clinics, patients can enjoy a massage, physiotherapy, exercise therapy, etc. A speech therapist, a nutritionist, a clinical psychologist, a rehabilitation physician, and many other specialists are engaged in treatment. The combination of multidirectional rehabilitation methods ensures excellent results in a short period.