Neurology is the branch of medicine that deals with disorders of the nervous system, which include the brain, blood vessels, muscles and nerves. The main areas of neurology are: the autonomic, central and peripheral nervous systems. A physician who works in the field of neurology is called a neurologist; a neurosurgeon treats neurological disorders via surgery.

After 8 years of medical school, neurologists must complete postgraduate residency for 3 to 4 years. After completion of residency, some neurologists may continue on with fellowships in other areas of neurology. These may include behavioral neurology, clinical neurophysiology, epilepsy, interventional neurology or pain management.

Neurological disorders often differ between infants and young children and adults. Neurological problems in those younger than 18 years are managed by pediatric neurologists.


Disorders that affect the pediatric population include: cerebral palsy, complex metabolic diseases, epilepsy, learning disabilities, and nerve and muscle diseases. After 4 years of medical school, pediatric neurologists complete 5-year post-graduate training comprised of 2 of pediatric training, 1 year in general neurology and 2 years in pediatric neurology.

Diagnosis and treatment

A neurologist is trained to diagnose and treat neurological disorders. Neurologists must first determine if a problem exists in the nervous system. The patient’s health history is reviewed followed by a neurological exam which assesses the function of cranial nerves, coordination, mental status, sensation, strength and reflexes.

Once a diagnosis is developed, more tests may be warranted to guide treatment. Diagnosis is carried out by tests such as the computed axial tomography scan, magnetic resonance imaging, electroencephalography or electromyography.

Neurological disorders are comprised of brain cancer, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord disorders, diseases that affect the muscles and peripheral nerves and neuromuscular junctions.

One major clinical division of neurology is neuro-oncology, which consists of the management of patients with primary brain tumors, metastases and the neurologic complications of cancer.