The most important first step in getting the most suitable treatment is to get an accurate diagnosis. In other words, to know exactly what is causing your symptoms.
When you first meet with your Consultant at the hospital, they will take a medical history and will ask you about your symptoms in detail. They will ask you questions like:
- What symptoms do you have?
- When did these symptoms begin / when did you first notice them?
- Have they been getting worse?
- In what way(s) are your symptoms affecting daily life or limiting you?
- Do you have a treatment plan in place already?
They marry carry out a physical examination if indicated. They may also carry out a neurological examination, to systematically test your cranial and peripheral nerves, and/or a cognitive examination if appropriate
This may be all that is needed to make a diagnosis, but in many cases you may be referred for additional investigations like:
- MRI of the spine and/or brain
- CT scan
- Neurophysiology test – electromyography (EMG) and nerve conduction test (NCS) – tests for nerve damage in the peripheral nerves (the nerves outside your brain and spinal cord)
- Electroencephalogram (EEG) – measures the electrical activity in the brain. Useful for investigation of epilepsy
- Blood tests
These tests will be carried out at the earliest opportunity. Due to the specialist nature of some of them, some can be done here on-site, while others will be arranged for you outside the hospital.
Once any results are back, your Consultant will meet with you again to discuss the results and to explore suitable treatment options. If you have any questions or concerns, you will be able to talk through them together in a relaxed, unhurried environment.
Due to the many varied ways a neurological condition can affect the body, your Consultant has a close working relationship with specialists in other areas like neurosurgery, spinal surgery, oncology, and radiology. If it is determined that referral to another specialist would be the most appropriate action, this will be arranged for you without delay.
For example, some neurological problems may require surgery, in which case referral to a neurosurgeon or a spinal surgeon would be appropriate.