As an incredibly complicated profession, doctors often work in areas that people don’t run across that often. Terms like general practitioner or pediatrician might sound familiar. Terms like cytopathologist or pulmonologist probably don’t.
One area that you might run across is neurology. In fact, if a parent or grandparent had a stroke, they likely had a neurology consult. If you know someone with seizures, they likely met or meet with a neurologist for treatment.
So, what is neurology?
What Is Neurology?
At its core, neurology concerns itself with medical conditions related to the nervous system. That can mean something as specific as a spinal cord injury or as broad as trouble with your muscles or blood vessels.
For example, let’s say that you experience numbness in your legs that gets worse over time.
One possible cause for that is a condition called peripheral neuropathy. It happens when some of your nerves get damaged in some way. It’s also common in people with diabetes.
If your doctor suspects peripheral neuropathy, she might refer you to a neurologist. As an expert on nerves, the neurologist can offer a more certain diagnosis and recommend treatment.
As with other areas of medicine, many neurologists practice a specialty. A specialty is a smaller area of neurology that the doctor spends most of her time on.
For example, children typically suffer from different nerve-related conditions than adults. So, a doctor might specialize in child-neurology.
Doctors with an interest in the relationship between cancer and the nervous system might focus on neuro-oncology. Other specialties include:
- Vascular Neurology
- Neuromuscular Medicine
A related area of expertise is neurosurgery. This is a surgical specialty, rather than a neurology specialty.
For an example of a hospital with a department that offers neurology specialties, click here.
As with other physicians, neurologists undertake years of education. Most will start with four years of pre-med as undergraduates. They follow this with another four years of med school.
After medical school, the doctor will then enter into a residency program. Residency programs provide advanced training in specific areas. Neurology residencies can last from one to four years.
Residencies in areas like child neurology often require residencies in other areas, such as pediatrics and neuroscience.
Doctors may also pursue more education through fellowships. Fellowships offer a chance to dig even deeper into a specialty.
Parting Thoughts on Neurology
The basic answer for what is neurology is the study and treatment of nerve-related conditions. Of course, this undersells the area of study.
Neurology tackles difficult conditions like degenerative diseases and seizures. It also comes with a host of specialties. A neurologist might know everything about brain tumors or work exclusively with children.
It’s also a demanding area of medicine that calls for years of additional training.
Interested in more information about health or medicine? Check out one of our many articles on living healthy and medical conditions.