What is a neurologist?
A neurologist is a medical professional who specializes in treating diseases and medical conditions that affect the central nervous system, in particular, the central and peripheral nervous system containing the brain and spine. Neurologists are experts at the top of their fields who have completed a graduate degree, an internship and residency in neurology before they are able to practice independently.
Individuals who seek out the services of a neurologist typically are experiencing medical issues that go beyond the scope of traditional primary care and require a neurologist's deep understanding of the central nervous system to develop a treatment plan moving forward. Patients who are experiencing symptoms and conditions such as coordination problems, muscle weakness, recurring migraines, confusion, dizziness and issues with the senses are sometimes caused by nervous system disorders (Healthline).
What conditions do neurologists treat?
Neurologists are consulted on a variety of medical conditions that affect the brain, spinal cord and associated nerves, such as epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, neuromuscular disorders, nervous system infections like encephalitis, meningitis or brain abscesses, neurodegenerative disorders and spinal cord disorders. During the first appointment with a neurologist, he/she will likely perform a physical exam and neurological exam that analyzes a patient's muscle strength, reflexes and coordination to check for underlying signs of a neurological issue (Mayo Clinic).
Neurologists can perform a number of unique tests and procedures to diagnose and treat specific neurological issues, such as tensilon tests, lumbar punctures, electroencephalograms (EEG) and more. Additionally, in some cases primary care doctors will enlist the help of neurologists to interpret the results of common imaging tests such as CT scans, MRIs and PET scans. Ultimately, the vast majority of neurological disorders are treated by having a neurologist work in close collaboration with a patient's primary care doctor and other specialists to manage symptoms and develop an effective treatment plan.