What Does a Neurologist Do For Back Pain?
Many people ask me what does a neurologist do for back pain, especially if they are suffering from chronic pain.
- I can tell them that they are not alone in their quest to find out what a neurologist can do for them.
- One in four Americans suffer from some sort of pain from their back, and more than half of those people want some kind of relief.
- The good news is that there are quite a few ways to find the root cause of your back pain, and once you identify the problem, a neurologist can help you find a cure.
- A lot of people don’t think of this when they are in pain, but it is a very common occurrence. There is almost always some type of injury or trauma that happened to the body that is sending signals to the brain. A neurologist can help you determine what those signals are.
- One of the most common disorders is Parkinson’s Disease. Patients with this condition experience a motor loss that results in poor control of bodily functions. Some experience difficulty walking, while others may be unable to move. If you have Parkinson’s, then your doctor may advise a course of medications or even surgery in some cases.
- Another common neurological disorder is MS. People who have Multiple Sclerosis experience nerve pain that can range from mild to severe.
- Because of the many disabilities that Multiple Sclerosis can cause, a neurologist often deals with patients who have difficulties with both motor and cognitive function.
When you visit them, they will first do an assessment of your medical history, perform a physical examination, and request medical testing such as MRI, CT, and X-Ray.
Neurologists can treat your back pain by using medication and/or surgery.
- They can also provide advice about which exercises and stretches are right for you. Sometimes, a patient is referred to a physical therapist, or osteopath.
- The physical therapist will teach you how to do your daily activities more effectively and safely. You may also benefit from regular massage or a chiropractic adjustment.
- Many people are finding that visiting a neurologist is a good way to manage their back pain. Not only do they offer great insight, but they also are highly trained in the health care field. This means they can help you regain your ability to function on a daily basis. Whether you have been injured at work, fell on the stairs, or have an underlying disorder, a neurologist can help.
Neurologists make a long term relationship with their patients with lower back pain by discovering the exact cause of the pain and then developing treatments to relieve the pain.
Pain in the back is often mistakenly thought to be the result of muscle or ligament strain or damage.
This is only after the diagnosis by the neurologist that you understand that it is in fact the result of neurological damage.
Thus begins the journey of developing treatments that relieve the pain.
It is important for patients to seek out a qualified physician to assist in these endeavors as not all physicians are familiar with the specialized techniques required in dealing with pain.
Understanding the pain messages sent to the brain from various parts of the body is a key component in determining how to treat neurological damage effectively.
The messages sent to the brain are often complicated in nature and require the expertise of a skilled neurologist.
- These professionals have many years of experience in the field and are able to decipher what is being said to decipher the actual cause of the pain.
- Often it will take more than one type of treatment to successfully relieve the pain. The neurologist is also able to provide patients with information about the importance of diet, exercise and supplements in assisting them in their efforts to deal with their pain and neurological damage.
- Neurologists make a long term relationship with their patients and their dedication to their patients’ well-being is immense.
- They make sure that they prov
- ide them with an environment that enables them to participate in activities that they enjoy such as recreational sports and visiting other physicians in their field.
- Most importantly, they continue to educate themselves about pain management so as to continue to help their patients in the future. Without a neurologist, patients could find themselves at a loss when it comes to pain management and treatment. Patients and doctors both benefit from having a good rapport.
Neurologists Can Provide Most Informed Referral to a Surgeon As Last Resort
- Neurologists are very knowledgeable about the human body.
- They are highly trained medical specialists and masters in their field who have obtained certifications from either the American Board of Medical specialties or the American neurologic association.
- Their areas of specialization are brain functioning, neurology, psychology and behavioral health.
- A neurologist is also certified by the state to provide diagnostic and therapeutic services in neurology and brain injury/illness.
- They are also qualified to treat brain injuries. There are many neurologists around the country, but some specialize in treating the following conditions; stroke, traumatic brain injury, Multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and Cerebral palsy.
As you may understand, there are many risks when referring someone for surgery or procedure such as a neurological procedure.
Due to the nature of neurology, not every hospital has one of these highly trained doctors on staff.
Many times neurologists who perform invasive procedures are referred to plastic surgeons due to the complexity of the procedure.
Because of the nature of plastic surgeons, it is imperative that the patient fully understands everything that is involved and that their neurologist is willing to explain everything to them. This allows the plastic surgeon to make the best decision possible and ensure that the patient receives the best outcome possible.
Why is a Neurologist Helpful in Back Pain Diagnoses?
A neurological doctor is one who has training and is licensed in the practice of neurology, that is, the study of the nervous system.
A neurologist treats all neurological disorders including stroke, traumatic brain injury, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, blindness, spinal cord injuries, and disorders of the autonomic nervous system.
A neurological specialist can do an examination of the patient and help the patient to discover which type of pain they are experiencing.
A neurological exam usually begins with a history of symptoms.
Based on the history, the neurologist will then do a physical examination of the back to assess muscle function, range of motion, joint stiffness, and any tenderness or spasm.
Tests such as these may reveal problems that a normal medical examination might miss. They may also be able to detect the existence of neurological problems that a doctor would otherwise not be able to observe.
A neurological exam and review of symptoms by a trained professional to provide valuable information that can be used to help someone get the treatment they need.
A good Neurologist will know how to ask questions when the patient is lying on the table and can refer the patient to a specialist for more in-depth testing.
The results of neurological tests will determine what is causing the back pain and how to treat it.
A specialist can often suggest exercises that will help prevent the recurrence of back pain problems.
If a person is suffering from chronic back pain, getting the right diagnosis and treatment from a qualified professional can make all the difference between living a life that is pain free and suffering another back pain episode.
Why a Neurologist Use EMG Tests to Assess the Injury to Nerves in Back Pain
Many doctors of chiropractic recommend EMG testing to assess the injury to muscles and nerves in back pain. These tests are usually used for chiropractic treatment where the joints are subluxated. Chiropractic treatment usually consists of adjustments to restore joint mobility and this is the reason why this test is often used before a chiropractor recommends an adjustment to patients.
During EMG testing, electrodes are attached to the subjects body and they are made to feel a tap on the skin above the area that is being tested.
The electrodes are then supposed to produce different sensations depending on what is tapped by the subject.
If the nerves are being disrupted in some way, it will be able to be identified and treated accordingly.
However, if the tests do not disrupt the nerves, then it is important to know if there is nerve damage because then, it can be treated with the proper exercises that the chiropractor will suggest to the patient.
Neurologist use this test in order to find out if the patient has inflammation on the brain which can cause other problems like memory loss or other mental disorders.
This test is also very helpful for diagnosing other diseases like multiple sclerosis. The tests are usually used to confirm or exclude the diagnosis of other diseases that the patient may have.
How Can a Neurologist Assess If Back Pain Is Long Term Or Short Term?
If you have been told you have a pinched nerve in your back and need to see a neurologist, there are a few things you should be made aware of before leaving the office.
First of all, a pinched nerve in the back is usually not a life-threatening issue.
However, it can cause a great deal of pain and discomfort for the patient.
Second, even though a pinched nerve in the back does not always cause life-threatening issues, a neurologist will be able to assess whether back pain is short term or long term, and what type of treatment is best. Some patients with back pain can simply rest, and some may require more intense pain treatment.
Usually when a patient comes into the neurologist’s office, they will undergo a neurological exam first. This is usually completed within fifteen to twenty minutes, and the patient can leave feeling more positive about their condition. From the examination, the neurologist will be able to determine whether back pain is short term or long term. At this point, the patient can decide whether they want to get treatment right away, or if they would like to try to wait out their symptoms.
A good chiropractor can assess the severity of your back pain as well. In addition, a good chiropractor will be able to help you manage your pain.
Unfortunately, many people do not realize that chiropractic care can help address back problems, since most people think of this type of care as just for the spine.
Chiropractors can help treat the nervous system, which can help prevent long-term issues with back pain. Finally, a chiropractor can assess your posture. If your posture is causing your back problems, chiropractors can also help you change your posture.
Common Noninvasive Neurological Examinations
The most common tests that a neurologist may recommend to a patient with symptoms of a neurological disorder are brain scans, neuropsychological tests, and neurological exams.
These tests will help your neurologist to determine if you have a possible serious neurological condition or not.
A brain scan is a visual process where the brain’s functions such as motor function, speech comprehension, visual spatial awareness, and cognitive processes are evaluated using a computer.
Through this test, a neurologist will be able to identify if the patient is suffering from a possible severe brain abnormality or not.
Neuropsychological tests are conducted on patients wherein they will answer multiple questions about the factors that can cause or contribute to a patient’s neurological problems such as depression, trauma, repetitive movements, and intelligence.
Another very common procedure that a neurologist may suggest to his or her patient is performing neurological exercises such as motor skill training, manual dexterity, balance, vision, and speech therapy.
Through these tests, your doctor will be able to evaluate the progress and the improvement of your neurological condition. Some of the most common noninvasive, neurological examinations that your neurologist will recommend include Vigorate Pulsatile Tinnitus Test (VPT), Posive Audiogram (PAG), Medical Acoustic Evaluations (MAA), and Stimulus Response Test (SRT).
These tests will be used to monitor your brainwaves, brain chemistry, eye movement, muscle tone, and abnormal reflex patterns while your eyes are hooked up to a device that provides you with a light signal to look at.
Neuropsychological tests will also be recommended by your neurologist. This type of test will determine if you have an abnormal mental status like dementia and other problems related to your thinking. Some of the common psychological tests that your neurologist will recommend include Rorschach Inkblot Test (RIT), Rorschach Copybook, and Rorschach Figure. All these tests will help your neurologist to evaluate your mental status and will determine the presence or absence of neurological problems.
When a Neurologist Performs Electromyography (EMG)
- Many people wonder if the neurologist can be used to test and diagnose neck, back, and leg pain.
- In fact, the use of this testing is becoming more commonplace in medicine as more is learned about the relationship between the nervous system.
- Neurons in the brain send signals to and from other neurons in the body and when those signals are disturbed due to disease, neurological disorders or trauma, these symptoms become apparent in various parts of the body.
- Neuromuscular pathways may be affected in the spinal cord, which is why so many people have painful herniated disks, Back pain, and other related conditions. If a neurologist were to perform EMG for back pain, they would be looking for any abnormal changes in the electrical activity of the muscles, which might indicate a neurological issue.
Before testing can begin, it is necessary for the patient to provide some information.
The patient will need to describe which symptoms they are experiencing as well as any past medical history of similar issues. EMG testing can also help to rule out other conditions such as Parkinson’s disease or Alzheimer’s disease.
Many times a patient will experience numbness, tingling or weakness while performing some tasks; these symptoms may point toward neurological problems as well.
The tests that a neurologist performs on a patient can also help them determine if the patient is suffering from substance abuse, which could lead to impaired judgment when driving a vehicle or handling certain chemicals.
EMG provides the basis for many clinical laboratory tests, which require placing the patient under a microscope to view the electrical activities of certain organs, tissues or muscles.
There are a variety of reasons why a neurologist might want to perform EMG for pain. However, pain must be acute and life threatening in nature for the testing to be considered successful. For example, if a motorist comes upon a motor vehicle swerving erratically, without control, the driver most likely has nerve injuries that could result in loss of limbs or even death if not identified and treated in a timely manner.
Neurologist Perform Nerve Conduction Velocity NCV Testing
- One of the most requested tests from a patient that I see in my office is the nerve conduction velocity or NCV. Nerve conduction is when you move your finger and it moves into a different location than where it is pointed to.
- The average person can do about 120 motion points with just one finger. This means that a neurologist can find out if you are experiencing problems with your neurological system and many times the problem is so subtle that we don’t notice it until it is very progressed.
- When this type of test is requested from a patient, they typically request nerve conduction velocity testing.
- Neuroimaging or MRI testing is another common diagnostic test that is requested by neurologists.
- When a patient requests this form of testing, they usually want to know if there is an abnormality on their brain that causes the problem.
- It is used to look for tumors, chronic nerve damage, stroke, head trauma, spinal cord abnormalities and many other disorders and diseases.
- This type of imaging can be performed using radiological techniques, which uses radio waves, or using optical imaging, which uses light waves.
- There are many techniques that a neurologist will use to conduct these tests, but it depends on the situation, the severity of the problem and the location of the afflicted nerve.
If you think that you might need one of these tests, you should contact your family physician or a reputable neurologist. They can perform these tests and give you a detailed description of what will occur during the test.
This will help you understand whether or not you are a candidate for this procedure. If you are, then the neurologist will schedule you for the test and the staff will set up the imaging equipment for your examination.