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What is a neurological problem?

Neurological problems result from injury or changes to the functioning of the brain, spine or nerves.

The term ‘neurological’ comes from neurology – the branch of medicine that deals with problems affecting the nervous system. The word neuro means nerve and nervous system. You can read more about the brain and spine and the nervous system here.

Digital representation of nerve cells (Source: Wellcome Images)

Digital representation of nerve cells (Source: Wellcome Images)

Some neurological problems or conditions are present from birth (congenital), some are hereditary (genetic) and others have a sudden onset due to injury or illness, such as a head injury or stroke, or a cancer of the brain or spine.

There are over 470 known neurological conditions. Some conditions, such as head injury and stroke, with the right treatment and support, may make a good recovery. Other conditions, such as muscular dystrophy and motor neurone disease, are degenerative (symptoms worsen over time). A neurological condition may often result in some degree of disability.

People are likely to have to make big changes to their lifestyles due to the effect of the condition on their physical abilities and their sense of perception, memory, judgement and reasoning.

They may become less independent and require more physical and emotional care and support in their daily lives. These conditions affect both children and adults and in many cases cause long term problems without the prospect of a cure.

You may wish to look at the section  Living with a neurological problem for more information about managing a neurological problem and seeking professional help, both of which can improve the person’s quality of life.

In medical terms when we refer to neurological conditions we are referring to conditions that do not require surgery, for example multiple sclerosistransverse myelitis and migraines.

When surgery is performed on the nervous system, especially the brain and spinal cord, it is called neurosurgery. We cover neurological problems that may require neurosurgery such as subarachnoid haemorrhagespinal tumourshydrocephalus and shunts.

Neurological conditions and associated treatments are often complex and difficult to understand by those affected, their families and friends.

The Brain & Spine Foundation is here to help you throughout your journey by providing expert support and information on the full range of neurological conditions and problems.