Nervous diseases are diseases that develop as a result of damage to the brain and spinal cord, as well as peripheral nerve trunks and ganglia. Nervous diseases are the subject of study of a specialized field of medical knowledge – neurology. Since the nervous system is a complex apparatus that connects and regulates all organs and systems of the body, neurology closely interacts with other clinical disciplines such as cardiology, gastroenterology, gynecology, ophthalmology, endocrinology, orthopedics, traumatology, speech therapy, etc. The main specialist in the field of nervous diseases is a neurologist.
ND can be genetically determined (Rossolimo-Steinert-Kurschmann myotonia, Friedreich’s ataxia, Wilson’s disease, Pierre-Marie ataxia) or acquired. Congenital malformations of the nervous system (microcephaly, basilar impression, Kimberly anomaly, Chiari anomaly, platybasia, congenital hydrocephalus), in addition to hereditary factors, can lead to unfavorable conditions of intrauterine development of the fetus: hypoxia, radiation, infection (measles, rubella, syphilis, chlamydia, cytomegaly, HIV), toxic effects, the threat of spontaneous termination of pregnancy, eclampsia, Rh conflict, etc. Infectious or traumatic factors affecting the nervous system immediately after the birth of a child (purulent meningitis, asphyxia of a newborn, birth trauma, hemolytic disease) often lead to the development of such nervous diseases as cerebral palsy, childhood epilepsy, oligophrenia.
Acquired ND are often associated with infectious lesions of various parts of the nervous system. As a result of infection, meningitis, encephalitis, myelitis, brain abscess, arachnoiditis, multiple encephalomyelitis, ganglioneuritis and other diseases develop. A separate group consists of traumatic etiology: TBI, spinal cord injury, traumatic neuritis. ND that occur in old age are mainly caused by vascular changes (dyscirculatory encephalopathy, TIA, ischemic stroke, hemorrhagic stroke), less often by metabolic disorders (Parkinson’s disease). The incidence of oncological nervous diseases remains high. The limited space inside the skull or spinal canal leads to the fact that even benign tumors of this localization (astrocytoma, craniopharyngioma, ganglioneuroma) have a malignant course. In addition, the problematic nature of complete removal of CNS tumors causes their frequent recurrence.
Clinical manifestations directly depend on which part of the nervous system was involved in the pathological process. Thus, nervous diseases with brain damage can be accompanied by headache, dizziness, gait and coordination disorders, speech disorders, hearing and vision loss, paresis and paralysis of a central nature, changes in the psyche. Nervous diseases associated with spinal cord pathology are manifested by motor and sensory disorders below the lesion level. Diseases of the peripheral nervous system (trigeminal neuralgia, facial neuritis, intercostal neuralgia, cervical plexitis, polyneuropathies, radial nerve neuropathy, femoral nerve neuropathy, etc.) are characterized by pain syndrome, sensitivity disorders, muscular atrophy, motor disorders, vegetative and trophic changes in the innervation zone of the affected nerve.
The foundation of instrumental diagnostics traditionally consists of such studies as radiography of the spine, Echo-EG, EEG, REG, electromyography, in children of the 1st year of life – neurosonography. They are replaced by more accurate diagnostic methods: computed tomography, MRI, PET of the brain, ultrasound of the vessels of the head, duplex scanning. And, if REG and echoencephalography, as methods of diagnosing nervous diseases, gradually lose their significance, then EMG and EEG remain indispensable. They make it possible to identify functional changes occurring in many that are not diagnosed by neuroimaging methods. In some nervous diseases, diagnostic search requires lumbar puncture, stereotactic biopsy, puncture of the ventricles of the brain, and other diagnostic operations. Since the nervous system is closely interconnected with other organs and systems of the body, for a more accurate diagnosis of nervous diseases, a neurologist (a pediatric neurologist) often needs consultations from other specialists: an ophthalmologist, an endocrinologist, a cardiologist, an orthopedist, etc.
Treatment as a rule, includes a whole range of measures aimed not only at combating the cause of the disease and its etiopathogenetic mechanisms, but also at maximum recovery of the neurological deficit resulting from the disease. For this purpose, physiotherapy, physical therapy, mechanotherapy, reflexology, manual therapy are widely used in the treatment of nervous diseases. Treatment of aneurysms, tumors, intracerebral hematomas, abscesses and cysts of the brain requires surgical intervention. In some cases, surgical treatment is used for epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease. Brain surgeries and spinal cord interventions are performed by neurosurgeons. They carry out modern surgical treatment of nervous diseases with the help of minimally invasive microsurgical techniques and under the control of neuroimaging. Methods of functional neurosurgery have been developed that are successfully used for torsion dystonia, cerebral palsy, Huntington’s chorea and other nervous diseases accompanied by muscle tone disorders, tremor or hyperkinesis.
You can learn more about the causes, symptoms, methods of diagnosis and treatment of individual nervous diseases in the corresponding section of the Medical Directory of Diseases. The Medic Journal website also provides descriptions of the main hardware studies that help diagnose various nervous diseases.