The field of neurology is complicated due to the complexity of the nervous system, but we at BeCare Link would argue it is the most important system in your body. The way a neurologist approaches their patients by looking for problems with cognition, motor, sensation, balance, walking and more. Once the deficiencies in function are found, they then can begin to formulate a list of where and what can be causing the problem.
Our BeCare NeuroLink app will be released to the App and Google Play stores very soon. It will allow you, the patient, to test your own nervous system function and if you find a problem, seek the help you need to get the right diagnosis. If you are diagnosed with a neurologic disorder, you can return to the BeCare NeuroLink App as often as you would like to monitor your improvement as you receive treatments. Your doctors can follow your results on the app on the phone or through a written report generated by the app to decide when they need to make changes in your treatment.
The nervous system is composed of the central and peripheral nervous systems (see our previous blog post here: https://becarelink.com/the-nervous-system-crash-course/). Below, we have given a list describing the most common disorders affecting the central nervous system, the peripheral nervous system or both. The list is certainly not comprehensive.
Central Nervous system diseases
- Alzheimer’s disease. This is a neurodegenerative disorder with disruption of brain function, memory and behavior.
- Cerebral palsy. This is a result of damage around birth to parts of the brain which can cause poor coordination, stiff or weak muscles, tremors, impaired hearing,vision, balance and speaking, delayed developmental milestones, seizures and impaired cognition. This is not a progressive disorder.
- Seizures. The brain generates abnormal electrical waves resulting in changes in levels of consciousness and abnormal motor movements.
- Motor neuron disease (MND). MND is a progressive damage to the motor functions of the central nervous system. The symptoms are muscle weakness. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is the most common form of MND.
- Multiple sclerosis (MS). MS is a repeated scarring of the brain and spinal cord. Caused by attacks by the immune system which strip the insulation of the covering of the nerve cells (demyelination). The most common symptoms are visual loss, double vision, motor weakness, difficulty walking and cognitive impairment.
- Parkinson’s disease. This is a chronic degenerative disorder with loss of dopamine-containing cells, and which primarily involves motor function, such as tremor, shuffling gait, and a slowness of movement. Over time there is a change in facial expression, speech, swallowing and cognition.
- Brain tumors. A primary brain tumor is a growth of cells in or adjacent to the brain. Secondary brain tumors are seeding from tumors growing elsewhere in the body (such as the lung or breast) and are called metastatic brain tumors. Some brain tumors are cancerous, while others are not cancerous but cause problems by pressing on normal brain tissue.
Peripheral Nervous system disease
- Myasthenia gravis. The immune system interferes with signals sent by the peripheral nerves to muscles throughout the body. People with Myasthenia Gravis have muscle weakness that increases during activity and improves after rest.
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Compression of the median nerve as it crosses under a ligament from the wrist into the hand. The symptoms are pain, numbness and tingling on the palm. When left untreated, there may be weakness as well. Symptoms are worse at night and aggravated by repetitive motions compressing the carpal tunnel.
- Brachial Plexus Injuries. The brachial plexus is a network of nerves that provides movement and feeling to the shoulder, arm and hand. Injuries can be from trauma, infection or tumors.
- Peripheral Neuropathy (PN). PN is damage to the peripheral nerves which have already exited the spinal cord. The symptoms can include weakness, numbness and pain, usually in the hands and feet. Sometimes the cause cannot be found (called idiopathic) while in other instances it can be identified, such as diabetes, vitamin deficiencies and autoimmune disorders.
- Diabetic Nerve Problems. This can include involvement of single nerves, of all nerve endings of the extremities, or of groups of nerves called nerve plexuses. The symptoms are pain, numbness and sometimes weakness.
- Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. Severe and longstanding pain and inflammation that follows an injury to an arm or leg.
- Guillain-Barre Syndrome. A rapid onset of muscle weakness due to damage of the peripheral nerves by the immune system, often following certain infections. This disorder can be life-threatening because of the weakness of respiratory muscles and abnormalities of heart rate and blood pressure.
- Radiculopathy The nerve roots exiting the spinal cord can be damaged by bony disease, herniated discs or by inflammatory or infectious conditions (like autoimmune disease or diabetes). The symptoms can include pain, weakness and numbness.
Diseases affecting both the Central and Peripheral Nervous Systems
- Lyme disease. An infection by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi transmitted by a tick bite. About 20% of patients with new onset lyme disease only present with fatigue, malaise, headache and muscle and joint pain. Oftentimes there is a characteristic skin rash seen called erythema migrans. Neurological complications most often occur in early disseminated Lyme disease. Patients may also suffer from chronic Lyme months to years after the infection.
- Syphilis. A sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum and can be treated with antibiotics. Syphilis can cause serious health effects without adequate treatment. Left untreated, the patient can develop dementia, personality changes and seizures.
- Bell’s Palsy. Paralysis of one side of the face. This is pure motor dysfunction without sensory loss. This can be temporary lasting weeks to months or permanent. Causes range from viral to multiple sclerosis to infarct (or stroke) in the 7th cranial nerve which is called the facial nerve. Because the 7th nerve originates in the brain and can be affected anywhere along its course, it can be injured in the central or peripheral nervous system. Diabetes is a risk factor. Other conditions which can cause facial weakness (like brain tumor, lyme disease and stroke) need to be ruled out.
- ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease). A neurodegenerative disorder characterized by worsening loss of voluntary motor function due to a progressive loss of motor neurons in the central nervous system. There is also involvement of the peripheral motor nerves. This is a rapidly progressive disorder that causes muscle weakness and stiffness of the arms and legs, difficulty with swallowing and eventually breathing.
- Neurofibromatosis (NF). A group of three conditions in which tumors grow in the nervous system. The three types are neurofibromatosis type I (NF1), neurofibromatosis type II (NF2), and schwannomatosis. In NF1 symptoms include light brown spots on the skin, freckles in the armpit and groin, small bumps within nerves, and scoliosis. In NF2, there may be hearing loss, cataracts at a young age, balance problems, flesh colored skin flaps, and muscle wasting. In schwannomatosis there may be pain either in one location or in wide areas of the body. The tumors in NF are generally non-cancerous.