Health Information

Nervous System Disorders

  • Acute Spinal Cord Injury

    Many types of trauma can cause an acute spinal cord injury. The more common types occur when the area of the spine or neck is bent or compressed.

  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)

    Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is a neurological disorder marked by the progressive degeneration of nerve cells in the spinal cord and brain. It is often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease, after a famous baseball player who died from it.

  • Alzheimer's Disease

    Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia, a disorder in which mental functions deteriorate and break down.

  • Anatomy of the Brain

    The brain is an important organ that controls thought, memory, emotion, touch, motor skills, vision, respiration, temperature, hunger, and every process that regulates your body.

  • Bell's Palsy

    Bell's palsy is an unexplained weakness or paralysis of the facial muscle that begins suddenly and worsens over three to five days. It can strike at any age, but it occurs most often in pregnant women, and in people who have diabetes, influenza, or another upper respiratory ailment.

  • Brain Tumors

    A brain tumor is an abnormal growth of tissue in the brain. The tumor can either originate in the brain itself or come from another part of the body and travel to the brain.

  • Neurological Disorders

    Here is a list of nervous system disorders that require clinical care by a physician or other healthcare professional.

  • Encephalitis

    Encephalitis is a term used to describe inflammation of the brain. The inflammation causes the brain to swell, which leads to changes in a person's neurologic condition, including mental confusion and seizures.

  • Epilepsy and Seizures

    Epilepsy is one of the most common disorders of the nervous system and affects people of all ages, races, and ethnic backgrounds.

  • Neurological Examination

    A neurological exam may be performed with instruments, such as lights and reflex hammers, and usually does not cause any pain to the patient.

  • Guillain-Barré Syndrome

    Guillain-Barré syndrome is a neurological disorder in which the body's immune system attacks part of the peripheral nervous system. The disorder usually occurs a few days or weeks after a person has had symptoms of a respiratory or gastrointestinal viral infection.

  • Lumbar Disk Disease (Herniated Disk)

    Lumbar disk disease is caused by a change in the structure of a spinal disk. Most of the time, disk disease is a result of aging and the degeneration that occurs within the disk.

  • Headache

    Headaches vary greatly in terms of pain location, pain intensity, and how frequently they occur.

  • Head Injury

    A head injury can be as mild as a bump, bruise, or cut on the head, or can be moderate to severe because of a concussion, deep cut, fractured skull bone(s), or internal bleeding.

  • How a Migraine Happens

    One theory says that migraine pain occurs because of waves of activity by groups of excitable brain cells, which trigger chemicals, such as serotonin to constrict blood vessels.

  • Home Page - Nervous System Disorders

    The nervous system is a complex, sophisticated system that regulates and coordinates the body's basic functions and activities. It is made up of two major divisions: the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system.

  • Meningitis

    Meningitis is an inflammation of the meninges, the membranes that surround the brain. Most cases of meningitis are caused by viruses; bacterial meningitis is rare.

  • Multiple Sclerosis

    Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an unpredictable, chronic disease of the central nervous system. Some people with MS may be mildly affected, but others may lose their ability to write, speak, or walk.

  • Tension Headaches

    Tension headaches are typically a steady ache, rather than a throbbing one, and affect both sides of the head. Stress or muscle tension is often the cause.

  • Types of Muscular Dystrophy and Neuromuscular Diseases

    Muscular dystrophy is a group of inherited diseases that are characterized by weakness and wasting away of muscle tissue, with or without the breakdown of nerve tissue.

  • Neurocutaneous Syndromes

    Neurocutaneous syndrome is a broad term for a group of disorders. These diseases are life-long conditions that can cause tumors to grow inside the brain, spinal cord, organs, skin, and skeletal bones.

  • Neurology

    Neurology is the branch of medicine that is concerned with the study and treatment of disorders of the nervous system.

  • Neurological Surgery

    Neurological surgery is used to treat disorders of the brain, spine, and nerves. The doctor who specializes in neurological surgery is called a neurosurgeon or neurological surgeon.

  • Online Resources - Nervous System Disorders

    A list of online resources to find additional information on nervous system disorders.

  • Overview of Nervous System Disorders

    Disorders of the nervous system include stroke, infections such as meningitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and functional disorders such as headache and epilepsy.

  • Parkinson's Disease (PD)

    Parkinson's disease is the most common form of parkinsonism, a group of motor system disorders. PD is slowly progressing and degenerative.

  • Rehabilitation for Neurological Disorders

    The goals of a neurological rehab program include helping the patient return to the highest level of function and independence, and improving the overall quality of life—physically, emotionally, and socially.

  • Septicemia

    Septicemia is the clinical name for blood poisoning. It is a medical emergency and requires urgent medical treatment.

  • Topic Index - Nervous System Disorders

    Here is a list of the most common types of neurological disorders, including acute spinal cord injury, Alzheimer's disease, epilepsy, and headaches.

  • Rehabilitation for Stroke

    Stroke rehabilitation works best when the patient, family, and rehabilitation staff works together as a team. Family members must learn about impairments and disabilities caused by the stroke and how to help the patient achieve optimal function again.

  • Treatment for Stroke

    Although there is no cure for stroke, advanced medical and surgical treatments are now available, giving many stroke victims hope for optimal recovery.

  • Risk Factors for Stroke

    The most important controllable risk factor for stroke is controlling high blood pressure. Blood pressure of 140/90 or higher can damage the arteries that supply blood to the brain.

  • Statistics of Stroke

    Almost every 40 seconds in the United States, a person experiences a stroke.

  • Signs and Symptoms of Stroke

    If you notice any of these symptoms, call 911 or your local emergency medical service immediately. Treatment for stroke is most effective when started as soon as possible.

  • Diagnostic Tests for Neurological Disorders

    Evaluating and diagnosing damage to the nervous system is complicated and complex. Many of the same symptoms occur in different combinations among the different disorders.

  • Diagnosis and Treatment for Migraines

    To help diagnose a migraine, your doctor may ask you when your headaches occur, how long they last, and what they feel like.

  • Types of Stroke

    Strokes are classified as either ischemic or hemorrhagic. Ischemic strokes are caused by blockage of an artery. Hemorrhagic strokes are caused by bleeding in the brain.

  • Migraine Headaches

    A migraine headache is unique among headaches because it includes symptoms other than pain. Nausea and vomiting, lightheadedness, and sensitivity to light are common with a migraine.

  • Cluster Headaches

    Cluster headaches occur in groups, or clusters, and individual attacks last one to three hours on average. They may occur every other day—or several times a day.

  • Ataxia

    Ataxia is a symptom—not a disorder. It refers to a failure of muscle control in the arms and legs, resulting in a lack of balance, coordination, and possibly a disturbance in gait.

  • Cerebral Aneurysm

    A cerebral aneurysm is a bulging, weakened area in the wall of an artery in the brain. This weak spot raises the risk that the artery wall will burst open.

  • Myasthenia Gravis

    Myasthenia gravis (MG) is an autoimmune disorder that causes weakness of the skeletal muscles. MG affects the voluntary muscles of the body, especially the eyes, mouth, throat, and limbs.

  • History of Stroke

    Hippocrates, the father of medicine, first recognized stroke over 2,400 years ago. At this time stroke was called apoplexy, which means "struck down by violence" in Greek.

  • Muscular Dystrophy

    Muscular dystrophy causes the muscles in the body to become very weak. The muscles break down and are replaced with fatty deposits over time.

  • Overview of Stroke

    Stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is disrupted. The disruption is caused when either a blood clot or piece of plaque blocks one of the vital blood vessels in the brain or when a blood vessel in the brain bursts.

  • Stroke (Brain Attack)

    Detailed information on stroke, also called brain attack, including history, statistics, symptoms, types, effects, diagnostic, treatment, and rehabilitation information

  • Effects of Stroke (Brain Attack)

    When an area of the brain is damaged, which typically occurs with a stroke, an impairment may result. An impairment is the loss of normal function of part of the body. Sometimes, an impairment may result in a disability, or inability to perform an activity in a normal way.

  • Concussion

    Sometimes called a mild traumatic brain injury, a concussion is caused by a blow or a jolt to the head.

  • Medical Management of Epilepsy

    Epilepsy is a condition that causes seizures, temporary reactions that often include twitching and convulsions. But epilepsy can usually be managed well through medication and other treatments.

  • Absence Seizures

    Absence seizures are seizures that last just a few seconds, and are characterized by a blank or "absent" stare. They're also sometimes called petit mal seizures.

  • Traumatic Brain Injury

    A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is exactly what it sounds like. This is a type of brain injury caused by a trauma.

  • Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyradiculoneuropathy

    Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyradiculoneuropathy (CIDP) is an autoimmune disorder, meaning the body attacks its own tissues. In CIDP, the myelin sheaths — the fatty covering on the fibers that insulate and protect your body’s nerves — are under attack.

  • Transverse Myelitis

    Transverse myelitis is a neurological condition that happens when both sides of the same section of the spinal cord become inflamed.

  • Chiari Malformation Type I

    A Chiari malformation is a problem in which a part of the brain at the rear of the skull bulges through a normal opening in the skull where it joins the spinal canal.

  • Essential Tremor Disorder

    Essential tremor disorder is a nerve disorder. It is also called a trembling disorder. It causes a person’s hands, head, trunk, voice, or legs to shake rhythmically.

  • Huntington’s Disease

    Huntington’s disease is a brain disorder in which brain cells, or neurons, in certain areas of the brain start to break down. As the neurons degenerate, the disease can lead to emotional disturbances, loss of intellectual abilities, and uncontrolled movements.

  • Status Epilepticus

    A seizure that lasts at least 30 minutes is called status epilepticus, or a prolonged seizure. This is a medical emergency that may lead to brain damage or death.

  • Neuromyelitis Optica

    Neuromyelitis optica, sometimes called NMO, is a rare condition that affects the spinal cord and the nerves that carry signals from the eyes to the brain, causing paralysis and blindness.

  • Poliomyelitis

    In about one in 200 cases, people who have polio become paralyzed. The paralysis usually affects the legs, and it is permanent.

  • Multiple Cranial Neuropathies

    Neuropathy is a disorder that affects the nerves. The cranial nerves are those that arise directly from your brain or brainstem and often affect areas like the face and eyes.

  • Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus

    The ventricles are chambers in the brain that normally contain cerebrospinal fluid. Sometimes, too much fluid can build up in the ventricles. This accumulation of fluid leads to a condition is called normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH).

  • Parkinson's Disease and Dementia

    Parkinson's disease is a movement disorder that can cause your muscles to tighten and become rigid, making it difficult to walk and engage in daily activities. It can also also cause memory loss and dementia in some cases.

  • Peripheral Neuropathy

    Peripheral neuropathy is a type of damage to your peripheral nervous system, the network of nerves that transmits information from your central nervous system (your brain and spinal cord) to the rest of your body.

  • Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis

    People who have relapsing-remitting MS have flare-ups of the disease, or relapses. Between these flare-ups, people have periods of recovery, or remissions.

  • Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis

    Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease that interferes with your brain's ability to operate your body.

  • Prion Diseases

    Prion diseases can affect both humans and animals and are sometimes transmitted to humans by infected meat products. The most common form of prion disease that affects humans is Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD).

  • Caring for Someone with Alzheimer's Disease

    Alzheimer's is a progressive condition, which means that it keeps getting worse. Eventually, people with Alzheimer's disease need help with daily activities because they lose the ability to dress, bathe, and feed themselves.

  • Early-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease

    Alzheimer’s disease most commonly affects older adults, but it can also affect people in their 30s or 40s. When Alzheimer’s disease occurs in someone under the age of 65, it is known as early-onset (or younger-onset) Alzheimer’s disease.

  • Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease

    Alzheimer’s disease is a brain disorder that causes memory loss, confusion, and changes in personality. It is a type of dementia.

  • Progressive Supranuclear Palsy

    Progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) is a complex condition that affects the brain.

  • Trigeminal Neuralgia

    Trigeminal neuralgia is a type of nerve pain that affects your face.

  • Increased Intracranial Pressure (ICP) Headache

    A brain injury or another medical condition can cause growing pressure inside your skull. This dangerous condition is called increased intracranial pressure (ICP) and can lead to an ICP headache. The pressure also can injure your brain or spinal cord.

  • Dementia with Lewy Bodies

    Of the forms of dementia caused by degeneration of the tissues in the brain, dementia with Lewy bodies is the second most common type after Alzheimer’s disease.

  • Frontotemporal Dementia

    Frontotemporal dementias are among the most common dementias that strike at younger ages. Symptoms typically start between the ages of 40 and 65, but FTD can strike young adults and those who are older.

  • Vascular Dementia

    Vascular dementia is caused by damage to brain tissue, which occurs because of decreased blood flow.

  • Anatomy of the Spinal Cord

    Made up of bundles of nerves, the spinal cord carries signals from your body to your brain, and vice versa.

  • Anatomy of the Skull Base

    The skull base offers support from the bottom. Think of it as the interior of the skull, where the brain rests.

  • Stages of Sleep

    One way that scientists measure sleep is through brain waves, which change in specific ways as you move through the sleep process. Your brain waves change during four basic stages of sleep.

  • Sleep/Wake Cycles

    How and when you feel sleepy has to do with your sleep/wake cycles, which are triggered by chemicals in the brain.

  • Insomnia

    Insomnia, the term for having trouble sleeping at night, is one of the most common sleep complaints. About one in three adults has bouts of insomnia that last a few days at a time.

  • A Vocabulary for Sleep

    A number of sleep disorders can keep you from catching your zzz’s. To help you understand what could be keeping you from the rest you need, get familiar with the vocabulary of sleep issues.

  • Overview of Tests and Procedures for Sleep Disorders

    To find out the cause of your sleep problems, your doctor may run a number of tests. These may confirm or rule out various health conditions and other problems.

  • Primary Sleep Disorders: Parasomnia

    Parasomnias are common sleep disorders that are characterized by strange or bizarre behavior or experiences during sleep.

  • Primary Sleep Disorders: Dyssomnias

    Dyssomnia sleep disorders cause difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. An example of a dyssomnia is periodic limb movements in sleep.

  • Sleep Deprivation

    Sleep deprivation is not a specific disease. It is usually the result of other illnesses and life circumstances that can cause its own symptoms and poor health outcomes

  • Parasomnias: Sleepwalking

    Sleepwalking refers to a type of sleep disorder that involves walking or performing other activities while in a deep sleep.

  • Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

    Most cases of pain are temporary. They tell you that your body needs rest in order to heal. But the pain of CRPS doesn't fade with time. Instead, CRPS causes pain that is severe and continuous.

  • Acute Radiculopathies

    Your spinal cord runs downward through a canal in the center of vertebrae in the spine. Nerve roots branch off the cord and go between the individual vertebrae. When problems affect these nerve roots, the condition is called radiculopathy.

  • Treating Pain with Spinal Cord Stimulators

    Spinal cord stimulation is one way to manage various types of pain. A spinal cord stimulator is an implanted device that sends low levels of electricity directly into the spinal cord.

  • TENS Therapy

    Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, or TENS, offers pain relief for some people by sending low-voltage electrical current into the body.

  • Nerve Blocks

    Neural blockades, commonly called nerve blocks, are procedures that can help prevent or manage many different types of intractable pain.

  • Therapeutic Pain Blocks

    If you don't get relief from standard pain relievers, you doctor may suggest injecting pain-relieving medicine into the site of the affected nerve.

  • OTC Pain Medications and Their Risks

    OTC pain relievers can be divided into just two main types: acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs.

  • Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease

    Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT) is a group of conditions also known as hereditary motor and sensory neuropathy. CMT develops because of a defective gene that causes abnormalities in the nerves that supply your feet, legs, hands, and arms.

  • Friedreich’s Ataxia

    Friedreich’s ataxia (FA) is a degenerative disease that damages your spinal cord, peripheral nerves, and the cerebellum portion of your brain.

  • Meningioma

    A meningioma is a type of tumor that's often discussed along with brain tumors, though it's not technically a brain tumor. This type of tumor grows in the meninges, which are layers of tissue that cover the brain and spinal cord.

  • Lambert-Eaton Syndrome

    Lambert-Eaton Syndrome, also known as Lambert-Eaton Myasthenic Syndrome, occurs when your immune system attacks the neuromuscular junction—the area where your nerves and muscles connect.

  • Epidural Abscess

    An epidural abscess is an infection that forms in the space between the skull bones and the brain lining (intracranial epidural abscess) or in the space between the bones of the spine and the lining membrane of the spinal cord (spinal epidural abscess).

  • Cerebral Abscess

    A cerebral abscess is a pocket of material in the brain that includes pus, microorganisms that are causing the infection, and cells from the immune system. It is sometimes called a brain abscess.

  • Dystonia

    Dystonia is a disorder that affects the way the body moves. It causes the muscles to contract, which makes them move involuntarily or get stuck in an abnormal position.

  • Brachial Neuritis

    Brachial neuritis is a form of peripheral neuropathy. It affects mainly the lower nerves of the brachial plexus.

  • Brachial Plexus Injuries

    A bundle of connected nerves in the neck region of your spinal cord sends branches down into your shoulders, arms, and hands. This group of nerves is called the brachial plexus.

  • Pseudotumor Cerebri

    Pseudotumor cerebri is a disorder related to high pressure in the brain that causes signs and symptoms of a brain tumor—hence the term “pseudo” or false tumor.

  • Subarachnoid Hemorrhage

    An aneurysm is a weakened area in a blood vessel that’s at risk of bursting. A subarachnoid hemorrhage means that there is bleeding in the space that surrounds the brain. Most often, it occurs when an aneurysm that's located on the outer surface of the brain bursts and leaks blood around the brain and inside the skull.

  • Arteriovenous Malformations

    Arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) occur when a group of blood vessels in your body forms incorrectly.

  • Cavernous Malformations

    Cavernous malformations, also called cavernous venous malformations or, when they are in the brain, cerebral cavernous malformations, occur when the blood vessels don’t form correctly.

  • Spinal Arteriovenous Malformations

    When veins and arteries don't form correctly and become entangled during development, the result is a condition known as an arteriovenous malformation (AVMs).

  • Developmental Venous Anomalies

    A developmental venous anomaly (DVA) is an arrangement of small blood vessels that may look like the spokes of a wheel and drain into a larger central vein. DVAs also may be referred to as venous angiomas.

  • Cephalic Disorders

    Cephalic disorders affect the central nervous system as it develops. They may also affect the brain and the growth of the skull.

  • Rathke Cleft Cysts

    Rathke cleft cysts are fairly rare. They make up less than 1 percent of all tissue masses that start in the brain.

  • Injectable Corticosteroids

    Corticosteroid injections can treat a variety of skeletal, muscular, and spinal conditions. Some of these injections can be done by your health care provider during a routine clinic visit; others require a referral to a pain specialist.

  • Chronic Pain Syndrome

    Chronic pain can feel like slow torture, making it difficult for you to go to work, exercise, or even take a shower and dress yourself.

  • Cryotherapy (Cold Therapy) for Pain Management

    When used to treat injuries at home, cryotherapy refers to cold therapy with ice or gel packs that are usually kept in the freezer until needed. These remain one of the simplest, time-tested remedies for managing pain and swelling.

  • Patient-Controlled Analgesia Pumps

    Patient-controlled analgesia is a method of pain management that allows you to decide when you will get a dose of pain medication. You don’t need to wait for a nurse, and you can get smaller doses of pain medicine more frequently.

  • Gliomas

    A glioma is a type of brain tumor that originates from glial cells, which help support the function of the other main brain cell type—the neuron.

  • Skull Base Chordoma

    A chordoma is a form of bone cancer that can occur anywhere along the length of the spine, from the base of the skull to the lower back.

  • Paranasal Sinus Tumors

    A paranasal sinus tumor is a cancer that has grown inside your sinuses, the open spaces behind your nose.

  • Olfactory Neuroblastoma

    An olfactory neuroblastoma often happens on the roof of the nasal cavity. It involves the cribiform plate, which is a bone between the eyes and located deep in the skull.

  • Basics of Brain Tumors

    Brain tumors form in one of two ways: A primary brain tumor starts with an abnormal brain cell and grows in the brain, and a metastatic tumor starts with an abnormal cell from another organ that makes its way into the brain, stays there, and multiplies to form a tumor made of that kind of cell.

  • Metastatic Brain Tumors

    Sometimes brain tumors start in the lung, breast, skin, kidney, or other body parts and spread to the brain. These are called secondary or metastatic brain tumors.