Neurological conditions are diseases, injuries, and disorders of the nervous system. These conditions can impact learning and mental abilities, impair mobility and balance, cause personality changes, or cause debilitating, chronic pain.
Physicians in two closely related roles – neurologists and neurosurgeons – treat these conditions. There are some overlaps but also some significant differences.
Both neurologists and neurosurgeons specialize in neurology, but a neurologist has expertise in evaluation and diagnosis, while a neurosurgeon performs necessary surgical procedures. They treat acute trauma such as head injuries from sports or from a car accident, behavioral conditions such as attention deficit Disorder (ADD), brain tumors, muscular conditions such as cerebral palsy, and seizure disorders such as epilepsy.
What Is a Neurologist?
A neurologist is a physician who is specially trained to diagnose, treat, and manage disorders of the nervous system. A neurologist undergoes many years of rigorous study and training, including an undergraduate degree in pre-med or biology, followed by medical school, a residency, and a fellowship.
Many neurologists take additional training in a specific area of neurology. All U.S. states require that a physician earn a medical license in order to practice legally.
When a patient has a neurological condition, their neurologist consults with other physicians involved in the patient’s care, and recommends surgery if necessary.
A neurologist diagnoses and treats many conditions, including the following:
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive disease that destroys memory and other mental functions.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a progressive neurological disease that destroys nerve cells and causes disability.
Autonomic nervous system (ANS) disorders disrupt the normal involuntary functions of the nervous system, such as breathing, digestion, and heartbeat.
Brain injuries and tumors.
Chronic dizziness, disorientation, and confusion.
Chronic pain caused by issues with the nerves and the nervous system.
Epilepsy is abnormal electrical activity in the brain that causes a disturbance in the patient’s cognitive ability, seizures, and uncontrolled movements.
Geriatric neurology involves diagnosis and treatment of nervous system disorders in the elderly.
Headaches and migraines involve chronic pain caused by vascular disorders or inflammation.
Pediatric neurology involves diagnosis and treatment of nervous system disorders in children.
Physical and mental balance and coordination issues.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disorder whereby the T-cells can mistakenly eat away the protective myelin (fatty) coating of the brain and spinal cord. The spots of missing myelin are called sclerosis, and the body often replenishes it.
Neurocritical/neurointensive care is given to patients who have life-threatening diseases of the nervous system.
Neuromuscular disease of soft tissues and muscles impact the voluntary muscular movements in hands, legs, and arms.
Neuro-oncology is the science of tumors of the nervous system.
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects movement. Low levels of dopamine are believed to be a big part of what causes Parkinson’s symptoms, but it’s not known why the dopamine levels are low to begin with.
Peripheral nervous disorders, or neuropathy, causes disruptions in the function of a nerve or group of nerves.
Seizure disorders cause twitching, shaking, or other involuntary movements due to neurological disturbances.
Sleep disorders are changes in normal sleep patterns, causing a patient to be unable to fall asleep on a regular schedule or unable to fall asleep at all.
Spinal cord injuries are caused by internal or external trauma to the spinal column or its surrounding structures.
Stroke is caused by oxygen deprivation and subsequent damage to an area of the brain due to interrupted blood flow.
What Is a Neurosurgeon?
Neurological surgery addresses injury or disease of the brain, head, spine, or peripheral nerves beyond just medicine. Neurosurgeons use invasive and, more recently, noninvasive surgery methods to treat neurological conditions.
In addition to an undergraduate degree, medical school, and internship, a neurosurgeon will also go through an extended neurosurgical residency program.
Surgeries performed by neurosurgeons include the following:
Aneurysms are weak areas in a blood vessel that bulge or balloon out, and may burst, bleed, or hemorrhage.
Brain tumors are abnormal growths of cells in the brain. A brain tumor can be benign (not deadly) or malignant (deadly).
Craniotomy is a surgical opening in the skull to expose the part of the brain that needs treatment.
Diskectomy is the removal of a damaged intervertebral disc.
Functional neurological disorders are where the brain appears normal but functions abnormally.
Lumbar puncture is the extraction of spinal fluid to test and diagnose neurologic disorders.
Neurovascular diseases such as strokes and aneurysms.
Pediatric and developmental disorders such as mental and physical neurological issues in children.
Pituitary tumors and other neuroendocrine disorders of the glands that regulate metabolism, sleep, and mood.
Trauma treatment includes emergency and general neurosurgery in life-threatening situations of the nervous system.
Contact a Colorado Neurosurgeon
Neurology and neurosurgery both require a deep understanding of the nervous system and its functions. Neurosurgeons perform needed surgical procedures to remove or correct neurological conditions.
Our seasoned surgeons and medical staff at Front Range Spine and Neurosurgery are experts in surgical and nonsurgical treatments of brain and spinal conditions. We practice comprehensive, patient-centered care, designed to achieve the best possible outcomes.
Call us today at (303) 790-1800 to request an appointment, or fill out our easy-to-use online appointment request form so we can get started. We look forward to serving you.