Identifying 9 Neurological Signs Early: A Path to Improved Outcomes

By: Adrian Cruce

Your brain and nervous system are responsible for everything from how you move to how you think. When something goes wrong with your brain, it can affect the way you think and act. The good news is that there are ways to identify neurological symptoms early on.

The earlier you identify neurological signs and symptoms, the better your chances are of getting treatment at a time when it will be most effective. This is especially true if you have a family history of neurological issues or have been diagnosed with other conditions that could cause neurological problems, such as diabetes or high blood pressure.

Brain conditions

Brain conditions can affect anyone at any age. Some brain conditions, such as seizures or strokes, are caused by problems with your brain. Others, like Alzheimer’s disease, are caused by changes in the brain that occur over time.

The most common types of brain conditions include:

  • Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias
  • Brain tumors
  • Chronic headaches
  • Concussion or head injury
  • Epilepsy or seizure disorder (seizures)


Neurodegeneration is the progressive loss of neurons and synapses, which can be caused by aging or disease. It’s a major cause of cognitive impairment and depression.

Neurodegenerative conditions include Alzheimer’s disease (AD), Parkinson’s disease (PD), Huntington’s disease (HD), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis/motor neuron disease (ALS/MND), multiple sclerosis (MS) and others.

Cognitive Impairment

Cognitive impairment is a common symptom in MS, affecting up to 80% of patients. It can be mild, moderate or severe and can affect memory, attention, problem solving and decision making. The extent of cognitive impairment varies from person to person depending on the type of MS they have as well as other factors such as age and education level.

The most common type of cognitive impairment seen in people with MS is called executive dysfunction which affects planning abilities; for example it may be difficult for someone with this condition to plan their day or organize tasks within a time frame (for example running errands). Other types of executive dysfunction include difficulties with multitasking and verbal fluency (finding words).

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Headaches are one of the most common neurological signs. They may be caused by an injury, a virus or a number of other conditions. Headache experts believe that headaches may be caused by more than 200 different disorders.

Headaches can have many different causes, including tension and migraine headaches. Many people experience tension headaches, which are usually caused by muscle tightness in the head and neck. Tension headaches often begin at the back of the neck and travel around to the front of the head. They can also cause pain at one spot on either side of your head (not behind your eyes).

Migraine headaches cause throbbing pain that lasts from four to 72 hours and affects only one side of your head. The pain can be so severe that it affects other parts of your body as well.

Fainting spells/blackouts/dizziness

Fainting spells, blackouts and dizziness can be the first signs of a neurological disorder. These symptoms are often caused by a number of different conditions, including stroke, seizures and vertigo. When these conditions are identified early, the chances for better outcomes decrease.


A spinal deformity that affects the alignment of the spine, scoliosis can cause pain and discomfort. It may also be associated with breathing issues, back pain and even heart problems.

Scoliosis is commonly seen in children and young adults, but it can also be found in older adults. It is more common in girls than boys.

The most noticeable sign of scoliosis is a lateral curvature of the spine. The abnormal curvature can range from mild to severe and can affect one or more areas of the spine.

Numbness or tingling in hands or feet

If you experience numbness or tingling in your hands or feet — especially if it comes on suddenly — seek medical attention immediately. This could be a sign that you’re having a stroke. It can also be caused by other conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome or nerve damage caused by diabetes.

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Back and neck pain

The back and neck are common sites of injury. The back is a complex structure that supports the entire body, while the neck is responsible for supporting the head, which weighs between 10 and 12 pounds. Injuries to these areas can cause pain and disability. If you notice any of these signs in yourself or someone close to you, it is important to contact your proven neurosurgeon in Brisbane immediately.

Back pain can be caused by a variety of issues, including muscle strain or spasm, degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal), osteoarthritis, joint dysfunction and more. Neurological deficits may also be present in individuals with back pain.

Neck pain may result from injury to any part of the cervical spine or its associated structures such as nerves and muscles. Injuries to these structures can cause symptoms such as tingling sensation in arms or hands (paresthesia), weakness or numbness in arms or hands (hypoesthesia), and loss of function due to muscle weakness (muscular atrophy).

Problems walking/stumbling/balance/coordination

Many people with neurological disorders have problems walking, stumbling or falling. These problems can be dangerous, especially if they occur during a stroke or brain injury.

The inability to walk properly can lead to serious injury. It is also very frightening for the person experiencing it and for those who see him or her struggling to walk.

  • Poor balance when standing or walking – This can include a tendency to fall over when turning around or moving suddenly
  • Walking slowly with short steps and stiff legs
  • Stumbling or losing balance when walking, running or climbing stairs
  • Slow or stiff movements when reaching for objects

By detecting these symptoms and getting them treated quickly, you can ensure that your loved one gets the best possible outcome.