Neurological conditions

Written by: Dr Dennis Chan
Edited by: Kalum Alleyne

Diseases of the central (brain and spinal cord) or peripheral (nerve roots, nerve endings, nerve-muscle junctions) nervous system can cause a variety of symptoms from memory loss to weakness and numbness in the hands and feet. Highly-qualified consultant neurologist Dr Dennis Chan is on hand to tell us about some of the most common neurological symptoms and their likely causes and effects.


A man with a headache


How are neurological conditions diagnosed?

First, patients are thoroughly assessed through detailed discussion and recording of symptoms and then, neurological examination. These initial consultations usually last around 40 minutes (longer if memory testing is needed) and in some cases, a second appointment may be arranged so that test results, treatments and future management can be discussed.


Each neurological condition presents itself differently depending on the person, which determines the treatment option chosen.


A patient’s medical history is the most important part of neurological diagnosis, as it helps neurologists answer two key diagnosis questions; “Where in the nervous system is the problem?” then, “What is the nature of the problem?”. To clarify these, investigations such as scanning (MRI or CT) and electrical studies of nerve and muscle function may be employed.


What are some typical neurological symptoms?

Typical neurological symptoms include:

  • Headache and facial pain - Headaches can occur due to migraine, muscle tension, cluster headache, high pressure in the brain, medication overuse, tumours and cysts. Some typical causes of facial pain include sinusitis, trigeminal neuralgia and temporomandibular joint dysfunction.
  • Numbness/tingling in hands and feet – This can be caused by damage to the nerve endings, which may occur with ageing, diabetes mellitus, high alcohol intake and vitamin deficiency. It can also be a sign of trapping of nerve roots within the spinal column and, on occasion, multiple sclerosis.
  • Movement/Balance issues – Movement and balance problems can arise from a multitude of conditions including problems with the inner ear, damage to the spinal cord, blood vessel blockage within the brain, or neurodegenerative conditions like Parkinson’s disease.
  • Numbness and/or weakness in arms and legs – This can occur after strokes, spinal problems, peripheral nerve problems like carpal tunnel syndrome or damage to the muscles, or nerve-muscle junction disorders such as myasthenia gravis.
  • Fitting and fainting – These could represent epileptic seizures or problems with heart function or blood pressure. Complete losses of consciousness can also be associated with neurological problems.
  • Memory problems – while memory decline occurs with normal ageing, their presence may also indicate the onset of Alzheimer’s disease or damage to blood vessels within the brain (vascular disease).


Dr Dennis Chan is a vastly experienced consultant neurologist in Horley, Hove and Caterham. If you think you may need to be assessed for a neurological condition, you can visit his profile and request an appointment.

By Dr Dennis Chan

Dr Dennis Chan is a highly qualified neurologist with vast experience treating a range of neurological disorders including headache, Parkinson's disease, epilepsy, and multiple sclerosis. He is an internationally recognised expert in dementia, specialising in the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease, mild cognitive impairment, and other memory disorders. His private clinics are located at Spire Gatwick Park Hospital, Spire Montefiore Hospital in Hove and The North Downs Hospital in Caterham. Dr Chan's NHS clinics in memory disorders and general neurology are held in Cambridge and Sussex.

Dr Chan qualified in medicine from the University of Cambridge. In addition to his medical degree, he holds two research doctorates. He obtained a PhD under the supervision of Professor John O'Keefe (University College London), who was later awarded the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, and an MD under Professor Rossor, Institute of Neurology, London. From 2014 - 2019 he was based at the University of Cambridge and in 2019 he moved his NHS work back to Sussex, and his academic work back to UCL.

Dr Chan's research into Alzheimer's disease has received extensive media coverage, with articles in all the leading national newspapers (including The Times, Independent, Guardian, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph) as well as interviews on BBC national TV, the BBC Radio 4 Today programme and CBS TV in the USA. His work has been published in the top research journals including Nature and The Lancet. Dr Chan receives research grant funding from the Medical Research Council, Wellcome Trust, Alzheimer's Research UK, Alzheimer's Society, Innovate UK, and the Alan Turing Institute. His research has been extensively covered by the national and international news media. 

Dr Chan is also leading UK research into cognitive impairment (brain fog) as part of long Covid. In July 2021 he was awarded £1.2 million by the National Institute of Health Research to study and treat this problem.

Dr Dennis Chan is happy to offer virtual consultations. To request an appointment, please click the blue eConsultation button on the profile. 

For more information about Dr Chan, go to: 

View Profile

Overall assessment of their patients

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