You know perfectly well what medical professionals such as a dermatologist, an orthopedic surgeon or a surgeon are in charge of, but… Do you really know how a neurologist can help you and what diseases he or she treats? Discover the functions of a neurologist thanks to Dr. Tarradellas, a neurologist in Barcelona with an extensive professional career.
What is a neurologist and how can he help us?
The neurologist is the specialist who treats diseases of the brain and the rest of the nervous system (central, peripheral and autonomic). That is, it is the doctor who can help you when you suffer from headache (migraine or tension headache, for example), neuropathic pain (neuralgia and abnormal sensations such as paresthesia), dizziness, vertigo, instability, transient alterations of consciousness (seizures, confusion, etc.. ), déﬁcit of memory and other higher functions (such as language, attention-concentration and temporo-spatial orientation), gait and balance disturbances, tremors and tics, loss of strength, certain vision problems (double vision, loss of sight, etc.), sleep disturbances, etc.
What does the neurologist treat?
According to Dr. Jaume Tarradellas, specialist in Neurology, it is known that “currently, one out of every six people has some neurological disorder, which is equivalent to approximately 15% of the population. This group of diseases includes Alzheimer’s disease, migraine, stroke (cerebral vascular accident), Parkinson’s disease, epileptic seizures and multiple sclerosis. Advising on the repercussions of this type of disease on the patient’s family or social life is one of the neurologist’s functions. The physical or intellectual disability component of some of these processes often provokes feelings of fear or additional guilt that the neurologist must try to neutralize”.
Alzheimer’s disease, a major neurological disease
It is the most common form of dementia in the elderly. “It is characterized by the deterioration of higher brain functions, such as memory, language, abstraction, calculation, visual-spatial capacity and orientation. Among the most frequent warning signs of a possible onset of Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia are “episodes of frequent forgetfulness (the person becomes repetitive), disorientation as to place and time, the appearance of disorder for no reason, difficulty in finding the words to express oneself, inability to solve unforeseen events, apathy and abandonment of personal image”. However, there are other very common diseases whose specialist is the neurologist: Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, migraines?
When to go to the neurologist?
Many patients are referred to the neurologist by their general practitioner. However, it is also possible to make an appointment directly with the specialist. Once in the office, the neurologist will analyze your case: “It is essential to take the medical history of each patient to know what is going on. Spending time to pinpoint the symptoms (their characteristics, where and when they appeared and what precipitated them) is the key to guiding the diagnosis,” says Dr. Tarradellas. And he adds: “A neurological physical examination is also performed and, often, the whole process is supported by the practice of complementary or diagnostic tests, which in no case can replace the neurologist’s person”.
Depending on each patient’s problem, neurologists may recommend imaging tests, such as CT (com puterized axial tomograﬁa), MRI (cranial or spinal magnetic resonance imaging) or TSA or cranial Döppler (a type of ultrasound); Neuropsychological testing (to evaluate attention, memory or language, among other functions), analysis (of cerebrospinal fluid, for example), electroencephalography or electromyography (to detect nerve and muscle alterations), as well as sleep studies (polysomnography).
What advances have been made in Neurology in recent years?
According to Dr. Tarradellas: “in the last ten years, Neurology has been evolving towards a more decisive specialty, by increasing the therapeutic possibilities. This will mean, in the near future, prioritizing clinical criteria over the use of new technologies, forcing a constant improvement in the art of listening to the patient and, therefore, in the quality of care,” he assures.
Likewise, collaboration with complementary specialties, such as psychiatry or psychology, currently in an incipient phase, “will become essential to solve many of the problems for which patients come for consultation. For more information, consult a specialist in Neurology.