Need to see a neurologist and want to know exactly what is a neurologist? 

Below, you’ll get a brief, plain English overview of what a neurologist is, what types of medical conditions they treat, types of neurologists and more.

What Is A Neurologist?

A neurologist is a type of doctor specializing in diagnosing and treating medical conditions of the nervous system. 

Neurology is a branch of medicine that studies multiple medical conditions that affect the nervous system. It seeks to understand what causes these conditions and how to best treat those conditions. 

The nervous system is divided into two parts. Neurologists provide treatments to diseases affecting both parts. Those two parts are the:

  • Central Nervous System. This is also known as CNS. It consists of the brain and the spinal cord. These are the primary organs of the nervous system. 
  • Peripheral Nervous System. This is also known as the PNS. The PNS consists of all the nerves outside of the CNS. 

Medical Conditions That Neurologists Treat

Neurologists provide treatment for many types of medical conditions that affect the nervous system. Some of the most common disease and disorders they treat include: 

  • Stroke
  • Epilepsy
  • Headaches
  • Migraines
  • Sleep disorders
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Myasthenia gravis
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • Brain tumors
  • Brain aneurysms

Your primary care doctor may refer you to a neurologist if you are experiencing the following symptoms:

  • Severe headache
  • Muscle weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of coordination
  • Paralysis (complete or partial)
  • Sensory changes that affect the sense of touch, smell, vision, and taste

Medical Training for Neurologists

Before becoming a neurologist, medical students need to first complete a four-year undergraduate degree. After that, they’ll need to attend medical school for another 4 years of training to get their medical degree. Next, they’ll need to complete another four-year residency in neurology. That is a total of 12 years of college and training!. 

Neurologists usually work at hospitals and clinics. 

Types of Neurologists

There are many subtypes of neurologists such as: 

  • Clinical neurophysiologists – specialize in treating nerve disorders.
  • Vascular neurologists – specialize in treating problems in the brain’s circulatory system.
  • Neurologists for palliative care and pain management – specialize in treating and taking care of patients who experience neurological pain.
  • Neurodevelopmental and neuromuscular neurology – specializes in treating patients with neurological conditions that affect their development and patients with neuromuscular diseases like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. 
  • Pediatric neurologists – focus on training the special neurological needs of children.

Neurologist vs Neurosurgeon

A neurologist should not be confused with a neurosurgeon. They are two different specialists. 

As we cover above, a neurologist specializes in diagnosing and treating medical conditions of the nervous system. On the other hand, a neurosurgeon specializes in operating on the nervous system. Even though they are different types of doctors, they can work together, especially in extreme cases. 

Bottom Line

So to sum it all up, neurologists are medical doctors or specialists who focus on diagnosing and treating many different medical conditions of the nervous system. And because conditions of the nervous system are different, there are different subspecialties in neurology. Each one specializing in treating specific neurologic conditions. 

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