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What are the Different Types of Neurological Disorders?

Karyn Maier
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Neurological disorders are certain medical conditions that impair the functioning of the body’s nervous system, which includes the central nervous system, the peripheral nervous system, and the autonomic nervous system. While most anomalies stem from biological causes, some are caused by genetic defects, which accounts for many neurological disorders in children. A neurological condition may also develop over time due to substance abuse, or chronic exposure to toxins. Other causes include brain or spinal injuries and certain degenerative diseases. In addition, some neurological disorders are non-specific in origin.

One of the most common neurological disorders to occur in all age groups is migraine headache. While this condition can usually be managed to a certain degree, the mechanism behind it is poorly understood. However, migraine is believed to be a genetic disorder. For some unknown reason, the brain periodically releases inflammatory mediators that trigger pain signaling in the cranial nerves and blood vessels.

Progressive disorders of the brain include Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease, which usually affect seniors. However, neither condition is considered part of normal aging. Both diseases are classified as being neurodegenerative. In Alzheimer's, cognitive function is lost due to the irreversible deterioration of brain cells involved in memory retention and pattern recognition. Parkinson's, on the other hand, is characterized by the deterioration of brain cells in the substantia nigra, the area of the brain that controls motor skills.

Cerebral palsy is an example of a disorder that affects children due to non-specific brain injury. While this condition usually manifests as a neonatal birth defect, it can also occur after birth. Cerebral palsy was once classified as a non-progressive disease. However, it is now recognized as a neurological disorder that represents a group of related conditions.

Multiple sclerosis is a neurological disorder that is also an autoimmune disorder. It is also progressive. In fact, persistent attacks on the nerve cells of the brain and spine over time can lead do serious disabilities, not to mention chronic pain. Unfortunately, the cause of this disease is unknown, as is its cure.

While not formerly classified as such, some mental illnesses are thought to be neurological disorders, at least in terms of being related to an imbalance of brain chemicals involved in neurotransmission. For example, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder fall into this category since they are both suspected of being biological in origin. Other types of disorders stem from metabolic diseases, such as diabetes. In fact, peripheral neuropathy in the legs and feet is very common in patients with type II diabetes. This condition is also progressive and sometimes leads to loss of mobility or even amputation.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Karyn Maier
By Karyn Maier
Contributing articles to The Health Board is just one of Karyn Maier's many professional pursuits. Based in New York's Catskill Mountain region, Karyn is also a magazine writer, columnist, and author of four books. She specializes in topics related to green living and botanical medicine, drawing from her extensive knowledge to create informative and engaging content for readers.
Discussion Comments
By ctkt2013 — On Nov 05, 2013

@anon134899: I have had the same unanswered problems for 15 years. My blood work came back with positive ACHR binding and modulating antibodies for Myathensis Gravis. There is an Australian website about it that is very good.

By anon159540 — On Mar 12, 2011

I have had brain lesions for going on 15 years, many episodes of slurred speech, dropped foot, balance issues, and weakness. I've had too many MRI to count and all lesions were non specific. The last neurologist - I have seen 4 I think - told me that I was a puzzle" but it is definitely neurological.

I am fed up - why can't anyone do something instead of making me feel like an idiot for seeing them in the first place?

By amypollick — On Dec 16, 2010

@anon134899: No, it's not saying you're nuts. It means they don't know exactly *what's* going on with you. Words like "idiopathic," "non-specific" and "not otherwise specified" mean you don't fall into a neat diagnostic category and the docs don't know what's wrong with you.

Doesn't mean they won't find out, but at this point, the "non-specific" means, "We're running tests and scratching our heads." Good luck. I hope you get a definitive diagnosis, soon!

By anon134899 — On Dec 16, 2010

i have been experiencing a gradual weakness predominately on my right. the neurologist calls it non-specific, because there are no lesions on my neck and brain mri. However, they haven't checked my spine. They plan to, but they seem sort of sure it is a case of nonspecific.

They ran a whole lot of tests on me, each showing certain abnormalities. For example, i have had optic neuritis, leaving scars on my optic nerve, while my upper GI showed that my ability to push food through my stomach is too slow. I have a real problem with my eyes closing spasmodically when I look up or side to side. Is the tentative diagnosis of non-specific just a nice way of saying you're nuts?

Karyn Maier
Karyn Maier
Contributing articles to The Health Board is just one of Karyn Maier's many professional pursuits. Based in New York's...
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