Diseases of the nervous system are a special group of pathologies that cause significant discomfort, are often of a chronic progressive nature, and are difficult to diagnose and treat.
What are the symptoms of diseases of the nervous system? The first stage in diagnosing diseases of the nervous system is a thorough examination of complaints and symptoms and a neurological exam. Often, the patient finds it difficult to talk about them on their own; however, experienced neurologists do their best to create a favorable atmosphere of communication, which makes the dialogue as open and productive as possible. If contact is not established, further maintenance is made impossible.
The doctor may be alerted by the following deviations:
- persistent chronic fatigue
- frequent headaches of any nature
- fainting and light-headedness
- dizziness, noise, and ringing in the ears
- sleep disorders, anxiety, and apathy
- decreased memory and concentration, general distraction
- frequent mood changes, irritability
- numbness, weakness, chills, burning, chilliness in the upper and lower extremities
- pain along the spine or legs
- asymmetry of the face
- violations of speech, gait, coordination of movements
- convulsions and tremors, involuntary twitching of the limbs
- urinary or fecal incontinence
- the rapid decline in vision.
Typically, symptoms always appear in clusters and progress steadily. Late diagnosis of the nervous system can lead to the impossibility of eliminating the problem. Some diseases of the nervous system do not respond to treatment at all and require only drug support to slow down the rate of development; it is necessary to conduct tests and procedures to determine this.
Additional diagnostic methods, tests, and procedures of the nervous system
During the first neurological exam, the neurologist will carefully listen to all the patient’s complaints and the dynamics of their development, study the life history to detect birth defects and the impact of risk factors (alcoholic beverages, smoking, harmful production). Then the specialist proceeds to the direct diagnosis of diseases of the nervous system:
- general condition
- speech, memory, and attention
- cranial nerve functions
- sensitive and motor spheres
- vegetative functions.
The doctor always pays attention to the pronunciation of words, coordination of movements, eyeball and limb movements, and any gait violations. The doctor also assesses the state of the psyche in general.
If at some stage abnormalities are found, the neurologist begins a more accurate examination, tests, and procedures of the affected area; this is necessary to identify the level of the disease (central and peripheral), which plays a dominant role in the appointment of treatment.
Depending on the clinical situation, the following may be prescribed:
- Ultrasound of extracranial arteries. Allows you to assess blood flow activity in the vessels feeding the brain to identify possible narrowing (atherosclerotic plaques, external compression).
- Computed tomography and magnetic resonance therapy. These diagnostics methods allow obtaining high-quality images of the brain, spinal column, and large nerve plexuses to improve the accuracy of the data obtained (for example, if a tumor is suspected), special contrast agents are injected.
- Echoencephalography. Allows you to assess intracranial pressure, detect possible neoplasms in the tissues of the brain.
- Electroencephalography. Based on the registration of biological currents in the brain. Allows to carry out differential diagnosis between various forms of epilepsy and suspect tumor processes.
- Radiography. A simple and effective method for detecting almost any disease of the spinal column.
- Electroneuromyography. Based on the assessment of the functional state of skeletal muscles. It is used when there is a suspicion of the presence of pathologies of the peripheral nervous system.
If malignant processes are suspected, oncologists are invited to carry out further diagnostics; various tests and procedures are carried out to examine the nervous system. A biopsy is performed, followed by a histological examination, which is necessary to verify the tumor and assess the prognosis.
Additionally, lumbar puncture and angiography may be required.
Laboratory tests and procedures play an essential role in the diagnosis and examination of the nervous system.
Experienced neurologists successfully diagnose and treat the following groups of diseases of the nervous system:
- chronic cerebral ischemia
- consequences of acute disorders of cerebral circulation
- pathology of the vestibular apparatus
- Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease
- neuralgia (intercostal, trigeminal, etc.)
- multiple sclerosis
- vegetative dystonia
- chronic fatigue syndrome
- amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and other neuromuscular diseases
- psychosomatic disorders and neuroses
- encephalitis and meningitis of any etiology.
Diagnostics of the nervous system and neurological exams are always complex. Many neurological abnormalities can be satellites of other organic disorders and require the involvement of other narrow specialists.
Diagnosis of diseases of the nervous system at home. If you are unable to visit the clinic, you can call a doctor at home. The neurologist will perform a thorough diagnosis and examination of the nervous system, take the necessary tests and provide medical assistance in full. If necessary, medical personnel can be sent to conduct intramuscular or intravenous injections, to monitor the effectiveness of the therapy.
Treatment of diseases of the nervous system. After a complete neurological exam of the nervous system and consultation with related specialists, treatment is prescribed. Therapy may include medication or surgery, physical therapy, massage, exercise therapy, and exercise machines.
In some situations, the help of psychologists and speech therapists may be involved, who will help you learn to live in conditions of neurological deficit.
What happens during a neurological exam?
A neurologist is specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the brain and spinal cord. During a neurological exam, a doctor checks various functions of the nervous system. Most neurological examinations include an assessment of:
- Mental health, doctor, or healthcare professional asks you general questions such as date, place, and time. They may also ask you to do certain things, such as memorizing a list of objects, naming objects, and drawing certain shapes.
- Coordination and balance, a doctor may ask you to walk in a straight line with one foot directly in front of the other. Other tests and procedures include closing the eyes and touching the nose with the index finger.
- Reflexes are an automatic response to a stimulus. Reflexes are tested by tapping different parts of the body with a rubber mallet. When reflexes are normal, the body moves in a specific way in response to these pressures. A doctor may tap on various parts of the body during a neurological examination, such as below the kneecap (bone in the knee) and around the elbow or ankle.
- The doctor’s sensation touches your feet, hands, and other parts of your body with various instruments such as a tuning fork, blunt needle, or cotton swab. You are asked to identify sensations such as warmth, coldness, and pain.
- Cranial nerves connect the brain to the eyes, ears, nose, face, tongue, neck, throat, shoulders, and even some organs. There are 12 pairs of cranial nerves in total. Depending on the symptoms, the doctor tests certain nerves; for example, they may ask you to identify certain smells, stick out your tongue and try to speak or shake your head from side to side. Hearing and vision tests may also be done.
The autonomic nervous system controls basic breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature. Your doctor or other healthcare professional may measure your blood pressure, pulse, and heart rate in different sitting, standing, or lying positions to assess your autonomic nervous system. Other tests and procedures include examining your students’ reactions to light and your ability to sweat normally.