WHAT IS
NEUROLOGY?

 

Neurology is the study of the nervous system.  This includes the brain, the spinal cord, the peripheral nerves emerging from the spinal cord and then the connection of those nerves to the muscles all over the body and the muscles themselves. 

The nervous system can go wrong in many ways and in fact even without the modern advent of numerous genetic diagnoses, there are more than 700 different conditions or ways in which the nervous system can get diseased.  This is almost more diagnoses than the rest of medicine put together. 

In simple terms, the nervous system can go wrong in a number of generic ways.  From the legal process, the most important usually is by injury.  It may however be damaged by inflammatory processes such as multiple sclerosis, degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease, tumours which may be benign (meningiomas for example) or malignant (gliomas). 

Diseases of blood vessels may be either atheromatous caused by so-called vascular risk factors (high blood pressure, smoking, high cholesterol, obesity and diabetes).  Alternatively blood vessels may get inflamed themselves and damage the nervous system by what is known as a vasculitis.

Although part of stroke, the brain can be damaged by blood clots forming elsewhere in the body, travelling to the brain and generating brain damage by cutting the blood supply.

Given that there are so many diagnoses, it is not surprising that neurological conditions need to be extensively investigated and delays occur in reaching the diagnosis.  This may lead to complaints by patients that their condition has been affected by late diagnosis.  This is not surprising given the severe shortage of Neurologists in the UK and my comments earlier about how Neurologists change the diagnosis and management when they are finally involved in patient assessments