When dealing with neurological symptoms, it can be hard to know when to go see a neurology specialist and what to expect. This article will serve as your guide to helping you understand the ins and outs of your first neurology appointment.
When to Make an Appointment
It is important to be aware of what is happening with your health. Some symptoms can be a sign of a larger problem. If you notice any of the following symptoms, you should make an appointment with a neurologist:
- Movement problems — difficulty walking or with fine-motor movements
- Unintentional twitches
- Dizziness — vertigo or not being able to maintain your balance
- Chronic pain
- Persistent memory problems — mixing up words or personality changes
Other symptoms require more urgent care. If you experience tingling or numbness on one side of the body, or if you are experiencing any seizures, do not wait to make an appointment. Go directly to the emergency room. These may be signs of a critical problem.
How to Prepare for Your Appointment
The best way to prepare for any doctor appointment is to keep track of information that may be relevant. Use a notebook or your phone to keep track of your symptoms and write down any questions that you have so you don't forget anything during your appointment.
It is also a good idea to get any previous test results from other doctors so that your neurologist is aware of your overall health and can compare results. You may also want to consider bringing a close friend or family member to help you.
What to Expect at Your Appointment
During your initial appointment with a neurologist, you will have a physical and neurological exam. They will test your balance and strength, as well as check your vision response with a flashlight and use reflex hammers to test your nerves. They will also evaluate your mental status and your speech. One of the most crucial parts, however, will be discussing your medical history and any new symptoms you've been experiencing.
Additional Tests Neurologists May Run
Aside from the simple in-office tests, a neurologist may need to order additional comprehensive testing and follow-up visits. These kinds of tests may be done for diagnostic purposes:
- CT to look for blood clots or damage to blood vessels
- MRI to check for tumors and swelling
- PET scan to search for diseased cells
- Bloodwork to look for the presence of infection
- Lumbar puncture to test your spinal fluid
- Electroencephalogram (EEG) to measure your electrical brainwaves
- Electromyography to map the capacity of your nerves and muscles
What Conditions Neurologists Treat
Neurologists treat a large number of conditions. They treat brain and memory illnesses such as Alzheimer's, epilepsy, chronic headaches, brain cancer, and stroke. They treat neurological issues such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS/Lou Gehrig's disease), multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, tremors, and Tourette's syndrome. And they also treat brain and spinal cord injuries.
Though you likely won't know your diagnosis right away, working with a neurology specialist is the fastest way to get to the root of your problem and get your health on the right track.