Neurology is the branch of medicine concerned with the study and treatment of disorders of the nervous system. The nervous system is a complex, sophisticated system that regulates and coordinates body activities. It has two major divisions:
Central nervous system: the brain and spinal cord.
Peripheral nervous system: all other neural elements, such as eyes, ears, skin, and other “sensory receptors”.
A doctor who specializes in neurology is called a neurologist. The neurologist treats disorders that affect the brain, spinal cord, and nerves, such as:
Cerebrovascular disease, such as stroke.
Demyelinating diseases of the central nervous system, such as multiple sclerosis.
Infections of the brain and peripheral nervous system.
Movement disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease.
Neurologists do not perform surgery. If one of their patients requires surgery, they refer them to a neurosurgeon.
Who is an Ideal Patient for Neurology Services?
Most people don’t go to a nephrologist without a referral from their primary care doctor. Typically, seeing a nephrologist means that you have kidney-related symptoms from an unknown cause or that you have health issues only a renal specialist knows how to treat. You might be referred to a nephrologist if you have the following signs or symptoms:
Chronic Urinary Tract Infections
If you get a lot of urinary tract infections (UTI), which are typically bladder infections, you are at greater risk for the infection to travel up to your kidneys. This also puts you more at risk of developing kidney disease, permanent kidney damage, or even kidney failure. Chronic UTI symptoms, especially blood in the urine, fever, and fatigue, can also indicate the early stages of bladder or kidney cancer.
Recurring Kidney Stones
Kidney stones are mineral- or salt-based deposits inside your kidneys, and they cause a lot of pain when passing through your urinary tract. If you get a lot of kidney stones, your kidneys are likely not filtering waste properly and are letting deposits accumulate.
You can also develop kidney stones that begin to block glomerular filtration (part of the urination process) and lower the filtration rate. Any obstructions can begin to damage your kidneys and lead to chronic kidney disease.
Foamy or bubbly urine means there is protein in your urine. This condition, called proteinuria, can happen from several causes, some being relatively harmless and others more likely to cause kidney damage. Your urine normally has a bit of protein waste in it, but this protein will pass unnoticed. Only when you have high amounts of protein do you begin to see foam or bubbles in the urine.
This protein spillover can accompany other symptoms like muscle cramping, shortness of breath, and tiredness, and may indicate more moderate stages of chronic kidney disease or early kidney failure. Your nephrologist will likely do a series of blood tests, such as blood urea nitrogen, serum creatinine, and protein-creatinine ratio, to check your blood and kidney health.
Itchy Skin and Joint or Bone Pain
If you’re experiencing bone and joint pain along with itchy skin, you might have a condition called renal bone disease, also known as mineral and bone disorder. This condition can occur alongside kidney disease, and it happens when the kidneys can’t maintain the amount of calcium and phosphorus your bones need. If untreated, this condition can lead to weakened bones, and heart and blood vessel problems.
Talk to your doctor if you’re experiencing these symptoms, as a referral to a nephrologist may be necessary.
What is the Benefit of a Good Neurologist?
Neurologists are highly trained medical doctors who specialize in diagnosing and treating neurological conditions such as strokes, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, and multiple sclerosis. One of the benefits of being a neurologist is the exciting opportunity to be on the frontier of rapidly emerging medical breakthroughs.
Other benefits of the profession include helping patients manage symptoms and live fuller lives.
Experienced neurologists are in high demand because of the complexity of the field. Years of training are required to gain skills, and many have sub-specializations and board certifications in areas like geriatric neurology, brain injury medicine and neurodevelopmental disabilities. Those desiring flexibility or phased retirement have the benefit of seeking positions as locum tenens hospitalists, providing on-call or part-time coverage.