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Neurology involves the study of the nervous system. This includes the brain, spinal cord, nerves and muscles. Pain is always generated by abnormal responses in nerve fibres so neurologists who have a particular interest will be asked to see people who have different pain problems. The most common pains are those in the head, neck and back.
Neurologists do not operate on patients. Their skills are focused on treating by either physical means or by the skilful use of medications.
The Association of British Neurologists recommends that there should be one neurologist for every 100,000 people. In the UK, the figure at present is more like one neurologist for every 300,000. This means that there are long waits in the National Health Service to see neurologists.
Over 20% of all acute hospital admissions are for neurological problems. Many doctors unfortunately have not had adequate training in neurological disorders but they have no choice but to treat patients in the absence of a neurologist.
It is known that when a neurologist is asked to see a patient admitted under a general physician, almost 50% of the time will the diagnosis and/or management change.
The Association of British Neurologists says that all patients with neurological disorders have the right to see a neurologist but perhaps only 10% of people in the UK have this opportunity when the need arises.