Safe Neurology Services, Close to Home

Each neurology case is unique. At Tenet Health Central Coast, we have nationally recognized neurologists, surgeons, nurses, physical therapists and staff who provide personalized treatment for patients in San Luis Obispo and surrounding areas based on their specific concerns and symptoms.

Whether you had a stroke and need care to get your life back, have a sleep disorder or you simply want to learn how to lower your risk of a brain condition, we’re here with safe neurological care near you.

What Is Neurology?

Neurology is a specialized branch of medicine that deals with disorders or conditions that affect the central and peripheral nervous system. This is made up of your brain, spinal cord, muscles and the nerves that split from the spinal cord and extend throughout the body.

What Is a Neurologist?

Physicians specializing in the field of neurology are called neurologists, and they are trained to diagnose, treat and manage patients with neurological disorders, as well as some conditions in the musculoskeletal system.

Neurologists are usually certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. If they want to narrow their focus to a specific group of patients or conditions, these physicians study and undergo additional years of clinical training. Some subspecialties in neurology are as follows:

  • Autonomic disorders
  • Child neurology
  • Epilepsy
  • Geriatric neurology
  • Headache medicine
  • Intervention neuroradiology
  • Neurocritical care
  • Neuromuscular medicine
  • Neuro-oncology
  • Vascular (stroke care)

What Are the Most Common Neurological Conditions?

Neurologists help diagnose, prevent and treat the following conditions:

  • Headache disorders such as:
    • Migraine
    • Cluster headache
    • Tension headache
  • Epilepsy and seizure disorders
  • Neurodegenerative disorders, including:
    • Alzheimer's disease
    • Parkinson's disease
    • Amylotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease)
  • Cerebrovascular disease, such as transient ischemic attack and stroke
  • Sleep disorders
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Infections of the brain:
    • Encephalitis
    • Brain meninges (meningitis)
    • Spinal cord (myelitis)
  • Growths or tumors of the brain, spinal cord or the peripheral nerves
  • Movement disorders, such as Parkinson's disease and Huntington's disease
  • Demyelinating diseases of the central nervous system, such as:
    • Multiple sclerosis
    • Guillain-Barré syndrome
  • Spinal cord disorders, such as:
    • Tumors
    • Infections
    • Trauma
    • Malformations
  • Disorders of peripheral nerves, muscles and neuromuscular junctions
  • Traumatic injuries to the brain, spinal cord and peripheral nerves
  • Altered mental status, encephalopathy, stupor and coma

What Are the Most Common Neurological Symptoms?

Neurological symptoms may occur due to bacteria, viruses and fungal and parasitic infections or as the immune system’s response to these potential offenders. Some of the most common symptoms of a neurological condition are as follows:

  • A change in sensation
  • Balance or coordination issues
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle weakness
  • Numbness in the legs and/or arms
  • Paralysis
  • Problems with your sense of touch, vision or smell
  • Seizures
  • Slurred speech

How Do Neurologists Diagnose a Neurological Condition?

During the patient’s first visit, a neurologist usually conducts a physical exam and a neurological exam. This helps the doctor evaluate the patient’s coordination, reflexes and muscle strength – all of which may affect the health of a person’s nervous system.

However, because various conditions may have similar symptoms, neurologists normally request additional tests and screenings to properly diagnose the patient’s specific condition. These tests may include the following:

  • Brain scans [i.e., computer tomography (CT) scan, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission tomography (PET), single photon emission computer tomography (SPECT), etc.]
  • Biopsies of the brain, skin, muscles and nerves
  • Blood, urine and other fluid tests
  • Cerebrospinal fluid analysis
  • Electroencephalography (EEG)
  • Electromyography (EMG)
  • Electronystagmography (ENG)
  • Genetic testing (to help track the patient’s family health history)
  • Lumbar puncture (spinal tap)
  • Myelography
  • Nerve conduction velocity (NCV) test
  • Neuropsychological testing
  • Polysomnogram
  • Thermography (a.k.a. digital infrared thermal imaging)
  • Ultrasound imaging
  • X-rays

There is typically no risk to going for a neurological exam, and you don’t need any preparation unless otherwise advised by your doctor.

What Are the Treatment Options for Neurological Conditions?

Neurologists may recommend various treatment options depending on your condition. These options may include any of the following:

  • Deep brain stimulation
  • Interventional neuroradiology treatments (which involve inserting small, flexible tubes or catheters into the blood vessels that lead to the brain) such as:
    • Balloon angioplasty
    • Endovascular embolization and coiling for cerebral aneurysms
    • Intra-arterial therapy for stroke
    • Kyphoplasty and vertebroplasty for vertebral fractures
    • Needle biopsies
    • Radiation oncology for the spine and brain
    • Stenting of carotid or vertebral artery
  • Physical therapy or rehabilitation for brain injury or stroke
  • Traditional neurosurgery
  • Medication
  • Microsurgery
  • Spinal cord stimulation
  • Spinal surgery
  • Stereotactic radiosurgery (a form of radiation therapy)

When Should You See a Neurologist?

We recommend that you talk with a neurologist in San Luis Obispo as soon as you experience any of the neurological symptoms indicated above. At the same time, if you have a family history of a neurological disorder or if you are at a higher risk for stroke, please schedule an appointment with a physician to learn how you can prevent a stroke as well as how you can lower your risk for a neurological problem.

Remember that Tenet Health Central Coast’s neurology care team is here for you with the compassion and expertise that makes us a community built on care. And as always, your safe care is our #1 priority.

For life-threatening emergencies, such as a stroke, please call 911 immediately.

Find a Neurologist in San Luis Obispo

To stay on top of your neurological health, schedule an appointment with one of our neurosurgeons or neurologists in San Luis Obispo.

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