What is a neurologist?

A neurologist is a medical doctor or osteopath who specialises in the diagnosis and treatment of brain, spinal cord, and nervous system diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, headaches, stroke, or injury. Before a neurologist can practice they must graduate from medical school, complete an internship, and receive three years of training in a Neurology residency programme. In America, neurologists can be board-certified by the Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, which is recognised by the American Board of Medical Specialities.

When would I need a neurologist?

As neurologists manage and treat neurological conditions or problems with the nervous system, there are many reasons that you may need to see one. People who are experiencing problems with their senses, such as touch, vision, smell, may need to see a neurologist as problems with the senses are sometimes caused by nervous system disorders. Similarly, people who are experiencing muscle weakness, a change in sensation, confusion, dizziness, or coordination problems may also need to visit a neurologist. If you are experiencing, or have experienced in the past, a stroke, multiple sclerosis, seizure disorders such as epilepsy, neuromuscular disorders such as myasthenia gravis, infections of the nervous system such as meningitis, neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, spinal cord disorders, or headaches such as cluster headaches and migraines, you should visit a neurologist as soon as possible.

How can a neurologist help me?

A neurologist can help you by diagnosing and beginning a course of treatment for your particular disorder, illness, or nervous system problem. The procedures that a neurologist may recommend may include a lumbar puncture, which well test your spinal fluid and allow a neurologist to detect a nervous system problem, a tensilon test, which can help in the diagnosis of myasthenia gravis, an electroencephalogram or EEG, which measures electrical activity in the brain, or a rage of imaging tests. Following such tests, a neurologist will be able to help you manage your symptoms and neurological disorder alone or with your primary care physician, and suggest a course of treatment which could include preventative lifestyle changes, physiotherapy, pain management, and medication.

What should I expect when I see a neurologist?

In your first appointment with a neurologist you can expect that they will perform either a physical exam or a neurological exam, or possibly both. This will allow the neurologist to test muscle strength, as well as reflexes, muscle strength, and coordination. Following this, and because often different disorders can have similar symptoms, a neurologist may need to carry out further tests prior to making a diagnosis. Once a diagnosis has been made a neurologist will begin discussing a course of treatment with you, which could mean advising you on healthier lifestyle choices, prescribing some medication or suggesting you have some physiotherapy.

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