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Neurology is the branch of medicine that deals with the anatomy, functions, and organic disorders of nerves and the nervous system. A neurologist who specializes in neurology studies and treats disorders that affect the brain, spinal cord, and nerves.

Neurologists often diagnosis and treat conditions, such as:

  • seizure disorders, such as epilepsy
  • stroke
  • multiple sclerosis
  • neuromuscular disorders, such as myasthenia gravis
  • infections of the nervous system, including encephalitis, meningitis, or brain abscesses
  • neurodegenerative disorders, such as Lou Gehrig’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease
  • spinal cord disorders, including inflammatory and autoimmune disorders
  • headaches, such as cluster headaches and migraines

Neurologists do not perform surgery; if surgery is needed, your neurologist will refer you to a neurosurgeon.

To make a diagnosis, a neurologist may use imaging tests such as:

  • computed tomography, or CT scan
  • magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI scan
  • positron emission tomography, or PET scan

A neurologist may also require psychical tests in order to make a formal diagnosis, such as:

Neurological Exam

Typically, the exam tests vision, strength, coordination, reflexes and sensation. 

Lumbar puncture

Your neurologist may use a lumbar puncture to test your spinal fluid. They may recommend the procedure if they believe your symptoms are caused by a problem in your nervous system that can be detected in your spinal fluid. The procedure involves inserting a needle into the spine after numbing it and taking a sample of spinal fluid.

Electroencephalogram (EEG)

This test measures electrical activity in the brain, by applying small electrodes to your head.

Other diagnostic procedures include sleep studies and angiography. Angiography determines blockages in the blood vessels going to the brain.

Your neurologist may help you manage your symptoms and neurological disorder alone, or work with your primary care physician and other specialists.