Neurology is a branch of medicine dealing with disorders of the nervous system.

Physicians specializing in the field of neurology are called neurologists and are trained to diagnose, treat, and manage patients with neurological disorders.

Most neurologists are trained to treat and diagnose adults.

Pediatric neurologists, nearly always a subspecialty of pediatrics, treat neurological disease in children.

Neurologists are also involved in clinical research, clinical trials, as well as basic research and translational research.

Neurological disorders are disorders that affect the central nervous system (brain, brainstem and cerebellum), the peripheral nervous system (peripheral nerves - cranial nerves included), or the autonomic nervous system (parts of which are located in both central and peripheral nervous system).

Neurologists also diagnose and treat some conditions in the musculoskeletal system.

Neurologists treat conditions such as:

  • Stroke
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Headaches
  • Blackouts
  • Peripheral neuropathy (disease affecting the nerves) including chronic neuropathic pain
  • Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders (eg tremor)
  • Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) also known as motor neuron disease. MND (causing weakness and muscle wasting due to nerve degeneration)
  • Epilepsy
  • Spinal cord diseases
  • Muscle diseases like muscular dystrophy (causing weakness of muscle fibres)
  • Myasthenia gravis (where the muscles become weak and tire easily) and related disorders
  • Brain tumours
  • Functional disorders (symptoms which cannot be explained by neurological damage)

Common procedures/interventions

These include:

  • MRI and CT scans
  • Electroencephalography (EEG) to look for signs of epilepsy
  • Nerve conduction tests (neurophysiology)
  • Injections for the treatment of patients with dystonia  (abnormal muscle contractions)
  • Rarely, muscle or nerve biopsies

If a patient requires surgery, the neurologist refers them to a neurosurgeon.

Neurologist subspecialties:

Because the nervous system is complex, a neurologist may specialize in a specific area. There are many subspecialties. Some examples include:

  • Headache medicine
  • Neuromuscular medicine
  • Neurocritical care
  • Neuro-oncology
  • Geriatric neurology
  • Autonomic disorders
  • Vascular (stroke care)
  • Child neurology
  • Intervention neuroradiology
  • Epilepsy