The nervous system is broad and very complex, consisting of your central nervous system and your peripheral nervous system. There are lots of different disorders of the nervous system. However, when you just want a basic understanding of them, it’s best to look at the most common ones. Following is a list of the most common nervous system disorders, organized into categories according to the area of the body that is affected.
When trying to get a basic understanding of nervous system disorders, you should take the time to learn some of the primary vascular disorders. These are the most common of the nervous system disorders. Vascular disorders are characterized by problems with the blood vessels all over the body. Often, these are genetic, but can be caused by other things such as high cholesterol, sitting for long periods of time, smoking, and being overweight or obese.
1- Stroke: when your brain isn’t getting enough blood due to a blood vessel being cut off or losing connection to the brain due to a clogged artery, you could have a stroke. Most often, physicians will prescribe blood thinners to treat this condition.
2- Subarachnoid hemorrhages: when fluid or blood leaks into the area between the brain and the protective membrane, it is called a subarachnoid hemorrhage. This could be a result of a fall or a blow to the head. Treatments include special medications, or a drainage tube to the brain.
3- Subdural hematomas: this occurs when the veins covering the brain have been stretched too thin and are torn, causing bleeding on the brain. These are most commonly seen in the elderly, but can be caused by repeated injuries to the head, frequent blood thinner use, and even alcoholism. These are treated by medications and surgery.
Another category of disorders of the nervous system are infections. These are caused by viruses and dangerous bacteria entering the body and the area around the brain. It is possible to treat bacterial infections, but not viral ones.
1- Meningitis: this is a result of inflammation and infection of the membrane around the brain, and is characterized by a locked neck and severe headaches. Viral meningitis is treated with rest and pain medications. Bacterial meningitis can be treated with cortisone and antibiotics.
2- Encephalitis: this is a viral brain infection that causes swelling. The symptoms are very similar to those of meningitis, including severe headaches, locked neck, vomiting, and even seizures. Treatment includes pain medications and corticosteroids.
3- Epidural abscess: this is an infection of the area between the skull and the spine and the membrane surrounding the brain. It is typically caused by a staph infection, but can be caused by other bacteria that has spread through the body in the blood. This can be treated through medication and surgery.
Primary Structural Disorders
These are a variation of nervous system disorders that result in changes/damages to the body’s structure (nerves, muscles, bones, etc.). These disorders are due to genetics or damage later in life. Treatment varies according to the type of disorder it is.
1- Bell’s Palsy: this is characterized by sudden paralysis or loss of muscle control on one side of the face. Doctors aren’t sure what cause it, and there is no treatment for it. Typically, it will correct itself in one to two months.
2- Carpal Tunnel: this occurs when the nerve running down the arm is pinched in the wrist. This disorder could be genetic, but is most often caused by long-term repetitive motions. Carpal tunnel can be treated with medications, physical therapy, or surgery- depending on the severity of it.
3- Peripheral Neuropathy: this disorder results in loss of feeling/numbness in feet and hands due to damage to the related nerves. It is typically a result of diabetes, but can also be caused by specific infections, tumors, and alcoholism. Often, it will resolve on its own, but can also be treated with nerve stimulation therapy or pain medications.
4- Cervical Spondylosis: this disorder is characterized by a bone growth/spur developing on the cervical (neck) spine, and pressing down on the nerve roots. Obesity, severe arthritis, and not exercising can cause this disorder. Prescription medications and physical therapy are typical treatments of cervical spondylosis.
These are those that relate to the nervous system, but have no physiological cause. Typically, these disorders begin in the brain and there are different treatments for each one of them.
1- Epilepsy: this disorder consists of seizures and results from disturbed nerve activity in the brain. In order to get a diagnosis of epilepsy, you must have two seizures that have no cause. Epilepsy is treated with anti-seizure medications.
2- Neuralgia: this disorder involves damage along the nerves, causing regular, gentle touches to be felt as severe pain. The cause isn’t known, but treatment consists of physical therapy, nerve blocks, and medications.
3- Dizziness: this is the most common of the functional disorders and is characterized by a feeling of vertigo and lightheadedness. Treatment of dizziness is prescribed according to the cause of the problem.
These are disorders of the nervous system that start slowly and get worse over time. These disorders have no cure and can result in death over time.
1- Parkinson’s Disease: this is characterized by a loss of muscle control, presented in shaking, slow movements, and stiffness. The cause is primarily genetic, but in some cases environmental factors could cause it. There is no cure for Parkinson’s but there are medications that can slow the progression.
2- Multiple Sclerosis: this is a disorder of the joints, nervous, and immune system. It is an autoimmune disorder, meaning your body’s immune system will attack the protective myelin covering of the nerves. Symptoms vary according to the severity and could include loss of vision, slurred speech, tremors, numbness and halting movements. There is no cure, but there are medications and treatments that can control pain and slow the progression.
3- Alzheimer’s Disease: this disorder results in permanent damage to the brain as well as loss of basic skills for functioning and memory. There is no clear cause for Alzheimer’s, but it is at least partially due to genetics. There is no cure, but researchers are using four different medications to stop the progression.