What is a Neurologist?

A neurologist is a medical doctor whose area is the diagnosis, treatment and management of conditions that affect the nervous system, including the brain and spine.

FM is now considered to be a condition that affects the central nervous system, so you may be referred to one.

Types of conditions that are treated by neurologists include amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease), Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias such as Lewy Body and multi-infarct dementias, brain and spinal cord injuries; epilepsy and other disorders involving seizures; multiple sclerosis; movement disorders including Restless Leg Syndrome and focal dystonias; and sleep disorders such as insomnia, excessive daytime sleepiness and narcolepsy. In addition to treating strokes and helping patients recover from strokes, neurologists may also treat brain cancer or other tumors of the brain or spinal cord, strokes, tremors (including essential tremor), and all types of headaches, including cluster, migraine and tension headaches.

Subspecialties of the neurology field include stroke, epilepsy, neuromuscular disease and movement disorders. The eight subspecialties recognized by the United Council for Neurologic Subspecialties are autonomic disorders, behavioral neurology or neuropsychiatry, clinical neuromuscular pathology, geriatric neurology, headache medicine, neurocritical care, neuroimaging and neuro-oncology.

Neurologists assess patients for mental status, vision, strength, coordination, reflexes and sensation by evaluating the head and neck, muscle strength and movement. They also check balance, ambulation, reflexes, sensation, memory, speech, language and other cognitive abilities. Diagnostic strategies include head CT scans, electroencephalogram (EEG), electromyogram (EMG) or nerve conduction velocity, evoked potentials, lumbar puncture, MRI, neurosonography, sleep studies and transcranial Doppler (TCD).

Neurologists can recommend but do not perform surgery. They will work with a neurosurgeon if a patient requires surgical intervention.


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