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Nervous System Disorders and Diseases

There are more than 600 different nervous system diseases.
John M Oct 24, 2019
The human body is an immensely complex and sophisticated structure made up of trillions of cells.

Groups of similar cells form tissues and when these tissues work together in a coordinated way to achieve a specific function, they form what is known as a 'system', for example, the digestive system which enables us to absorb nutrients from the food we eat.

The Nervous System

The most complex of all body systems is the nervous system, which is responsible for processing the information collected from our senses and coordinating bodily actions in response.

In essence, the nervous system controls the functions of the body and it is made up of two main parts - the central nervous system (CNS) and the peripheral nervous system (PNS).

Central Nervous System

The central nervous system consists of the brain and the spinal cord and it plays a significant role in the control and coordination of our bodily functions.

It is integral in the control of our thought processes and the registering of sensations throughout the body.

Peripheral Nervous System

The function of the peripheral nervous system is to connect the rest of the body with the central nervous system.

In total, the peripheral nervous system is made up of 43 different pairs of nerves, 31 of which are spinal nerves and 12 of which are cranial nerves, which means they come out of the skull rather than the spinal column.

Nervous System Disorders and Diseases

There are several types of disorders which can impact the nervous system in a negative way. 

These include, neurodegenerative diseases, functional disorders, infections, structural disorders and vascular disorders.

Neurodegenerative Diseases

Neurodegenerative disease is an umbrella term for a collection of diseases which involve the destruction or loss of function of neurons over time.

Examples of neurodegenerative diseases include Alzheimer's, multiple sclerosis and Huntington's disease. Many of these conditions share some similar characteristics, such as Parkinson's and ALS. 

Functional Disorders

Examples of functional disorders which affect the nervous system include epilepsy and neuralgia.

These conditions affect the function of the nervous system but show no structural sign of abnormality, unlike the neurodegenerative conditions mentioned previously.

Infections

There are numerous infections which can impact the nervous system, including meningitis, polio and encephalitis. 

Thankfully, the risk of these types of conditions can largely be avoided with the effective use of vaccinations.

Structural Disorders

Physical traumas, such as brain or spinal cord injuries can negatively (and permanently) affect the nervous system.

Other structural disorders of the nervous system include cervical spondylosis, carpal tunnel syndrome and Bell's palsy.

Vascular Disorders

Vascular disorders refer to a group of conditions which affect the blood vessels within the body.

Examples of nervous system disorders which fall into this category include stroke, hematoma and haemorrhages.

A Wide Range of Conditions

By understanding how the nervous system plays such an integral role in nearly all of our bodily functions, it's easy to see why such a wide range of medical conditions can negatively impact it.