Neurology is a specialized area of medicine that focuses on health conditions that affect the nervous system, which includes your brain and spinal cord. Denali Healthcare Specialists provides testing, treatment, and management for a broad range of neurological conditions and disorders. If you suspect that you have a neurological disorder, call today to schedule an appointment at one of our four convenient locations in Anchorage, Wasilla, Soldotna, or Fairbanks, Alaska.
What types of conditions do neurologists treat?
The neurologists at Denali Healthcare Specialists are experts in their field and can treat a number of neurological conditions that affect your nervous system, spinal cord or brain.
Common conditions include:
- Headaches and head trauma
- Infections and tumors
- Multiple sclerosis and neuromuscular diseases
- Epilepsy and seizures
- Movement disorders
- Spinal cord disorders
- Myasthenia gravis
The neurologists also provide treatment for neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson's disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also called Lou Gehrig’s disease.
What can I expect during the initial appointment to evaluate my condition?
During your initial evaluation with your neurologist at Denali Healthcare Specialists, you can expect a complete physical exam, along with a review of your medical history. Your neurologist also conducts a thorough neurological exam to evaluate your:
- Mental status
- Cranial nerve function
- Muscle strength and reflexes
- Coordination and sensation
Since different neurological disorders have similar symptoms, your neurologist may need to conduct a number of tests to formalize a diagnosis.
What diagnostic tests are generally performed for neurological conditions?
The type of diagnostic test that you may need depends upon your symptoms and information obtained during the physical and neurological exam.
An EEG is a noninvasive test that measures the electrical activity in the brain. The test is most often used to diagnose epilepsy, sleep disorders, depth of anesthesia, coma, and encephalitis. To perform an EEG, electrodes are applied to your scalp. Derivatives of the EEG technique include evoked potentials, a process that involves averaging the EEG activity time-locked to the presentation of a stimulus such as a visual, somatosensory, or auditory stimulus.
Nerve Conduction Study and EMG
To perform the Nerve Conduction Study, surface electrodes are taped over zones of your skin and muscles. The nerves that supply those zones are then stimulated with a surface probe, and a machine records the resulting electrical responses.
The electrical responses provide detailed information about nerve function. These stimuli feel like a small shock, such as a pinch or tingling. One or more nerves may be tested during this procedure.
If muscles do not respond correctly to stimuli produced in the brain and conducted by nerves to the muscles, it’s possible that the muscle does not process these stimuli normally, even though the nerves are intact.
To determine whether muscles are functioning properly, electromyography is performed. For electromyography, a very small disposable needle electrode is placed in one or more muscles. The electrical activity of the muscle is fed back through the electrode to a machine both when the muscle is at rest and then when it’s voluntarily activated.
A lumbar puncture, also known as a spinal tap, is performed to diagnose disorders of the brain and spinal cord. For this procedure, a needle is carefully inserted into the spinal canal, low in the back, to extract samples of cerebrospinal fluid which are then sent to the laboratory for analysis.
What types of neuro-injections are commonly performed by the neurologists at Denali Healthcare Specialists?
Denali Healthcare Specialists offers a number of specialized neuro-injections to treat various conditions.
Nerve blocks are used to alleviate pain. The procedure is performed by injecting a nerve-numbing medication into a group of nerves called a plexus or ganglion.
Trigger point injections
Trigger point injections treat painful areas of muscle that contain trigger points, or knots of muscle that form when muscles do not relax. Many times, you can feel these muscle knots under the skin. Trigger points may irritate the nerves around them and cause referred pain, or pain that is felt in another part of the body.
For this procedure, a small needle is inserted into a trigger point. The injection contains a local anesthetic or saline, and may include a corticosteroid. With the injection, the trigger point is made inactive and your pain is alleviated.
Botox® injections are most often associated with cosmetic procedures aimed at eliminating forehead wrinkles. However, Botox therapy is also indicated for the treatment of several medical conditions such as migraine headaches, crossed eyes, eyelid spasm, cervical dystonia, motor disorders of the facial nerve, colorectal disorders, excessive perspiration of the armpit and hands, and musculoskeletal pain disorders.
Facet joint injections
Facet joint injections provide pain relief when the cause of pain involves facet joints, which are small joints at each segment of the spine that provide stability and motion. Facet joints can become painful as a result of arthritis of the spine, a back injury, or mechanical stress to the back.
Cervical, thoracic or lumbar facet joint injections involve infusing a small amount of local anesthetic and/or steroid medication into the facet joint to anesthetize the joint and block the pain. Facet joint injections are often given to help patients better tolerate a physical therapy routine to rehabilitate their injury or back condition.
Prolotherapy is a procedure that stimulates your body’s healing process to strengthen and repair injured and painful joints and connective tissue. When ligaments or tendons are stretched or torn, the joint they are holding destabilizes and becomes painful. Prolotherapy repairs the weakened sites and produces new collagen tissue, resulting in permanent stabilization of the joint. Once the joint is stabilized, pain usually resolves.
Prolotherapy is performed by injecting the injury site very directly so as to “trick” the body into repairing itself. The mild inflammatory response that is created by the injection encourages the growth of new, normal ligament or tendon fibers, resulting in tightening of the weakened structure. Additional treatments repeat this process, allowing a gradual buildup of tissue to restore the original strength to the area.
For management of all your neurological needs, call Denali Healthcare Specialists to request an appointment.