What Does a Neurologist Do?


Neurologists treat disorders of the brain, spinal cord, muscles and peripheral nervous system. Severe headaches, seizures, movement disorders and neurodegenerative disorders are a few of the conditions treated by neurologists.

Neurologists generally treat patients referred by primary care physicians or other doctors. They diagnose and treat problems, such as seizures, in the central nervous system, which consists of the brain and spinal cord. Patients who suffer from migraines and headaches that cause seizures, vomiting and vision problems may be referred to a neurologist when other treatments fail. Additionally, neurologists treat movement disorders such as Parkinson’s Disease and other conditions marked by unintentional jerking or clumsiness.

Neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer's and Lou Gehrig's disease, also fall under the purview of neurologists. Dementia and Tourette’s patients are treated by neurologists as well.

Patients are treated on either an inpatient or outpatient basis. Neurologists gather comprehensive medical histories and perform diagnostic tests, such as CAT scans, MRI, EEG and EMG testing. When testing spinal disorders, they may collect spinal fluid for samples. Many of the disorders they treat are chronic, so neurologists often see patients on a long-term basis. Migraines, chronic pain, sleep disorders and epilepsy are just some of the conditions that require long-term treatment from a neurologist.

When a patient needs surgical treatment, neurologists do not perform the surgery. Such a patient is referred to a neurosurgeon.