Click below to review the most common questions patients ask about their neurological conditions and symptoms during a clinic, telehealth or hospital visit.
Anxiety is a response of our brain and nervous system related to our body’s basic survival wiring.
Your autonomic nervous system is involved in producing anxiety symptoms. These symptoms are related to what is known as your “fight-or-flight” response. This response is all about how you perceive actual or an imagined threat to yourself, your family or your way of life. Furthermore, when your threat response becomes an unconscious experience, you may develop a constant level of anxiety. This is when your mind and body cannot cope with your environment. In this case, your physical and mental function can be affected.
What are anxiety symptoms?
The symptoms include:
- Heart beat changes
- Dizzy spells
- Breathing, stomach and bladder problems.
Your body’s anxiety response can mimic what you feel when you suffer from damaging health conditions such as a heart attack and stroke. Therefore, you should talk to your doctor if you feel you have anxiety symptoms. As a result, your doctor may suggest that you take an anti-anxiety medicine for a short period of time. Alternatively, you doctor may refer you to a health professional that can help you work through your thoughts and responses.
The goal is to reduce your constant anxiety feelings that may make you feel sick, unable to sleep, and physically tired.
Depression can change how your nervous system works, therefore, it’s too simple to think of depression as only “a mental health problem.”
Physical symptoms of depression include:
- Feeling like you are sapped of energy
- Being run-down, like you have the flu
- Feeling emotional and physical pain
- Deep sadness and disinterest in activities that you usually participate in
- An unshakable feeling of worthlessness or guilt
- Worsening status of your underlying medical condition
What should I do about depression?
Depression makes it harder to heal, function and can make you sick . You need to reach out for help if you are think you are depressed. Therefore, it’s very important to talk to your doctor about depression.
Try this: You or someone else can write down specific information about your day, for example:
- How much you are sleeping in a 24 hour period
- How many times are you eating in a 24 hour period
- How much exercise do you get in a week
- If you have pain, how intense is it in a 24 hour period?
- Are you able to get your housework, schoolwork or job requirments finished on time?
The answers to these questions will help your health care provider understand how best to help you. Besides, you can start by doing things such as writing your symptoms down or finding a trusted person in your life to talk to as a first step.
The most common cause of headache is head muscle tension and migraine. These two problems are also two of the most common symptoms for medical visits. If you have a headache, you may be worried that you have bleeding in the brain or a tumor. In reality, most people don’t have headaches because of brain injury. Conversely, when your head and neck muscles are tight with spasms, you may be diagnosed with a tension headache. On the other hand, the condition of migraine causes a whole cascade of neurological symptoms, including head pain.
Why was I diagnosed with migraines?
Migraines are three times more common in women than in men, and hormonal changes in a women’s life can affect symptom severity. Migraines also run in families. It turns out that many women with migraines are convinced that their symptoms are related to cold or allergy related sinus pain. It does make sense that migraines can cause symptoms such as pressure behind the eyes, in the ears and nasal congestion. However a migraine headache is much more. Symptoms of migraine involve sensitivity to light and sounds, numbness and or weakness.
How can I get help with migraines?
The causes of migraines and headaches are vast. First you need to get a proper diagnosis. Your doctor will review the following:
- Family History
- History of head or neck injury
- Neurological conditions.
Most headaches can be well controlled using medication and non- medication treatments. Your should talk to your doctor about your options for your headahces.
Back pain is one of the top five (5) symptoms that drives people to see a doctor. You can develop acute back pain from physical muscle strain, such as twisting. bending the wrong way of lifting something too heavy.
Back pain can occur or worsen with:
- job or personal stressors
- bad posture
- lack of exercise
What are my risks for back pain?
Women are more prone to arthritis of the spine as we age. As a result, women may suffer from back pain during their later years in particular. Arthritis in the spine can cause the nerves that leave your spine to be pinched. Therefore, you may have symptoms that cause:
- Weakness in your legs
The medical term for symptoms caused by back nerve irritation is is radiculopathy (radical.0.pathy).Women in particularly loose calcium as they age, which cause spine bones to weaken and rub against each other. As a result spine disc bulging and conditions such as sciatica, which is a form of neuropathy can occur. If you have pain shooting down the leg from you lower back or hip, or weakness and numbness in your leg, that may be sciatica.
What’s my plan for back pain?
The good news is that most episodes of acute low back pain will improve over several weeks. However, if you have disabling back pain, you can manage it and recover your strength through stretching, strengthening your core (stomach) muscles and with daily exercise. These are important therapies to help manage and improve your persistent symptoms of low back pain. You should see your doctor if your back pain increases in level or spreads to other part of your body. In this case your doctor may send you for radiological studies.
Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain condition related to inflammation in the body. Fibromyalgia can spark pain in many different muscles, joints and nerves in your body. As a result, the disorder affects the perception and experience of pain signaling within your nervous system.
Why are women more prone to get a fibromyalgia diagnosis?
Fibromyalgia is a confusing medical diagnosis. Furthermore, women may be more prone to develop symptoms that lead to a a diagnosis of fibromyalgia. This is because the female nervous system is uniquely wired to process internal and external sensory signals. Also, hormonal influences specific to women can play a role in how they experience pain. Other conditions that are more common in women like depression, anxiety and chronic stressors are also related to fibromyalgia.
What can I do to manage my fibromyalgia symptoms?
The goal of fibromyalgia treatment is to ease discomfort and keep your body moving and functioning. Medications may help with the muscle pain and nerve irritation of fibromyalgia. Therapy for fibromyalgia may include pain or anti-inflammatory prescriptions prescribed by your doctor. To hasten your healing progress, you can use the following approaches:
- Pacing skills, in other words, don’t overload your mind or your body
- Body mechanics techniques (such as ergonomics) to protect your spine and muscles during physical activity or work
- Stretching every morning and night
- Learning how to use stress management and relaxation techniques to manage pain.
If your arms, hands or legs shake or move involuntarily, you have a symptom called tremor. In the field of neurology, this type of involuntary movement is called a movement disorder.
If you have a tremor, you may be one of the people around the world with the most common type movement disorder called an essential tremor. Essential tremor occurs when your muscles do not work together. Therefore, your muscles become out of sync as you try to perform routine tasks or activities such as writing, eating or drinking your coffee.
What can the doctor do to help me?
If you visit a neurologist, she may ask about your family history. This is because if you have relatives with a tremor, then you will have a greater chance of being diagnosed with tremor. Your doctors may send you for bloodwork to look for medical conditions such as:
- Thyroid problems
- Electrolyte imbalances
- Toxin levels in your blood related to alcohol or drugs.
Certain medications can also cause movement disorder. Further, your health care provider should review your prescription and non-prescription medications that you are taking on a daily basis.
What if I have Parkinson’s?
Parkinson’s Disease is very different from essential tremor. Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease which includes tremor as one of its disabling symptoms. However, the tremor caused by Parkinson’s occurs when your muscles are moving (at rest). Parkinson’s disease affects people more and more when with age.
It’s important to talk about your movement problems with your doctor. Your doctor may prescribe a medication if shaking disrupts your daily activities, such as eating or writing, or if you feel embarrassed because of your shaking. Also, doctors may refer you to other health professionals, such as occupational therapists. Therapists may direct you to use physical devices or tools, such as wrist weights or weighted sliverware to help get your muscles move more in sync.
Neuropathy (nr.aa.puh.thee) is a medical term for abnormal nerve sensations. You may have temporary or permanent injury to the nerves that provide sensation to your skin, joints, muscles, feet and hands. Neuropathy can also affect your nervous system function. Diabetes is the most common cause of damage to your nerves. However, spinal arthritis, genetics, and certain medical treatments like chemotherapy can also cause neuropathy.
How does neuropathy feel?
Usually not good. Symptoms of numbness and tingling can be distracting, uncomfortable and or very painful. These neurological symptoms can be most disturbing at night and may affect your sleep.
Women, you are likely than men to have a form of neuropathy where your legs get uncomfortable and feel “restless.” This is called restless legs syndrome (RLS). This condition is more common during pregnancy and if you suffer from anemia related to low blood iron (iron deficiency anemia).
How can I feel better?
Moving and stretching your legs frequently can help decrease the discomfort of neuropathy, Also, there are types of aerobic exercise and complimentary medicine techniques that can help reduce unpleasant or painful sensations in the arms, legs and feet. Your doctor can help investigate other possible causes of neuropathy, which can include
- Neurological conditions
- Immune system problems
- Past infections
- Degenerative spine conditions and spine arthritis.
You can get help, so find out what you need to do when you nerves are hurting.
Fatigue, a feeing of tiredness or low energy, can be caused by many factors. You may be prone to fatigue as you juggle so many responsibilities, work, child, family care, health issues, etc. Sometimes fatigue can become a chronic physical and mental drain which occurs in a health condition called chronic fatigue syndrome.
What causes fatigue?
Insomnia is when you have difficulty getting to sleep and or staying asleep. As each sleepless night of your life goes by, you loose the brain benefits of solid sleep. These benefit include:
- Clearing nervous system toxins
- Solidifying what we have learned during the day
- Restoring our mental flexibility
Sleep disorders, such as insomnia, can result from medical conditions, such as chronic pain and depression, aging, medications, diet and environmental factors.
How can I sleep better?
Most people need 7-10 hours of sleep each day to maximize energy, productivity and thinking ability. Since every one’s brain is wired uniquely, everyone has slightly different sleep needs. It may be helpful to keep a sleep diary so you are aware of what your actual sleep hours are.
If you learn to change your lifestyle habits, you can also improve your sleep. You should avoid exercising and eating a lot several hours before you go to bed. Also, you should definitely stop drinking caffeine by early afternoon.
If you snore at night, you should ask your doctor about sleep apnea, which can affect your sleep cycle. Your doctor may also send you for labs to check:
- Hormone levels
- Hemoglobin level
- Glucose level
since these hypothyroidism, reproductive hormone changes, anemia and diabetes might lead to the cause of your fatigue.
Neck pain comes from stress, poor posture (i.e. working on a computer at a desk), being overweight, migraines and arthritis. Even physical stress associated with depression and anxiety can cause your neck pain.
Why I am at risk for neck pain?
Women suffer from bone changes particularly when they age. Furthermore, women may be taking medications that cause bone loss, for example medications that treat breast and other types of cancer.
If you suffer from wear and tear on the upper spine, you can develop arthritis in the neck. As a result, pinched nerves in your neck leave the spine and go into the arm muscles to cause abnormal symptoms. Further, arthritis of the upper part of your spine, called your cervical spine, can cause
- Aching or burning pain in the neck,
- Arm tingling and numbness,
- Discomfort in your shoulder or chest area .
What can help with my neck pain?
When you have these symptoms, they can be mistaken for heart attack or stroke. When you go to your doctor, you may be sent for diagnostic tests to evaluate your neck pain. Your doctor may prescribe medications and non-medication treatments that can help with neck pain. You may also be referred to other health care professionals for treatments such as physical therapy, injections and or acupuncture. These techniques can help to manage pain and muscle tightness.
Muscle weakness can occur all over the body, or just in one muscle. A common cause of acute weakness is stroke. Alternatively, certain medications, blood problems, thyroid problems, and spinal cord or nerve injury can cause weakness.
With stroke, one muscle, several muscles, or an entire side of your body can abruptly get weak. If just one area of muscle of the body is affected, you may have a nerve injury or paralysis. An example is a condition called wrist drop, or radial nerve injury.
Is my weakness due to a stroke?
Symptoms of stroke in women, including weakness, is not always so clear cut. When your body is weak, your nervous system has to put more effort into otherwise routine movements. Therefore, routine activities such as getting up out of bed or walking up the stairs will be difficult. In this case you may “sense” something is wrong without realizing that you are actually weak. Worse, you may not realize what is happening to your body is related to a stroke.
What medical conditions can cause weakness?
If you have certain medical conditions such as chronic pain, thyroid problems, electrolyte imbalances, anemia, influenza virus and aging you, may also may feel weak. These conditions, on the other hand, may make you feel weak when your muscle function is actually normal.
When your muscles cannot exert a normal force to perform a certain movement or task, however, there is likely a neurological cause for your weakness. If you feel weak, it may be an emergency and you should reach out to your doctor or get help immediately.