Neurological symptoms can be difficult to understand. They can include anything from dizziness and confusion, to muscle weakness and seizures, amongst many other symptoms. Your General Practitioner (GP) can sometimes diagnose and treat these problems – but in some cases they might suggest finding a neurologist.
Neurologists have extensive specialised training for diseases of the brain, spinal cord, nerve and muscle. However, just like any doctor, they will often specialise in a certain area or disorder. For example, a practice might have one neurologist that specialises in degenerative disorders (like Alzheimer’s disease), and another who mostly treats cerebrovascular disorders (such as stroke). While they are both equally qualified, it’s best to find someone who has experience treating your specific condition.
Most of the time your GP will be able to refer you to someone who will be a good fit. But factors like location of the neurology practice, cost, or communication style might lead you to look into other practitioners. If you’re in the process of finding a neurologist, here are some tips to get you started.
An online search might sound overly simplistic – and it’s probably how you found this page. But there are some great online resources available that could help you find the right specialist.
A good starting point can be searching for “neurologist in [your area] for [disorder]”. This might direct you towards directory websites (such as HealthShare) or neurology practices. Directory websites don’t always have the most up to date information, but it’s normally fairly easy to contact the doctor or practice directly to follow up.
These days, most neurologists have profiles online. This could be through their private practice, academic institution, or the hospital they work at. Their profile will usually outline their training and qualifications, experience, and areas of interest. Areas of interest can be as broad as all cerebrovascular disorders (stroke, aneurysm, blood clots, haemorrhage, etc), or more specific to one or two conditions. This doesn’t mean they won’t be able to help you with other conditions, because they still received comprehensive training. However, it’s great to find a specialist that has experience with other patients like you. Generally, this helps with a more nuanced understanding of the possible symptoms and treatments.
Private vs public: what’s the difference?
One of the big questions about finding a neurologist is cost. Appointments can be entirely covered by Medicare, or they can be quite expensive depending on private fees. There are also differences in waiting periods and the availability of specialists.
You can see a neurologist at a hospital either as an inpatient or outpatient. Inpatient care is often
for emergency services – such as when you’ve called an ambulance, or booked a surgery for medical treatment. These visits at a public hospital will generally be completely free, with all (or most) costs covered by Medicare.
Outpatient care is any other medical service, like when you make an appointment to see a neurologist in their rooms. Sometimes they will bulk bill, but other times there are out of pocket fees. Unfortunately, you can’t use private health insurance for outpatient appointments at a public hospital.
If your local public hospital offers bulk billing and has a neurologist that specialises in your condition, this can be a great option for affordable care. However, there are some disadvantages. Depending on the size of the neurology department at the hospital, there might be fewer specialists. You can also expect long waiting periods – this is common even at private clinics, but it can be particularly long for public clinics.
Private care often provides a wider team of neurologists, more options for specialists, and slightly shorter waiting periods. You can also use private health insurance at these practices if your policy covers specialists. But without insurance, your appointments could be quite expensive.
It can be stressful to face high medical bills on top of the stress of managing your condition. If a practice doesn’t list their fees on their website, you can always ask them over the phone. Make sure to ask about Medicare and concession rates (i.e. if you’re on Centrelink or the disability pension).
While waiting periods are shorter at private practices, you could still be waiting a few months for an appointment. If your GP thinks you need urgent medical treatment, they can specify this in your referral. This recommendation will be recognised by both public and private practices, so you will be able to see someone quickly when it’s necessary.
Neurologists are doctors who diagnose and treat problems with the brain and nervous system. They don’t do surgery. Your doctor might recommend that you see one if they think you have an illness that needs expert care.
A neurologist has at least a college degree and 4 years of medical school plus a 1 year internship and 3 years of special training in neurology. Many also spend extra time learning about a specific field, like movement disorders or pain management.
What Does a Neurologist Treat?
Some of the conditions a neurologist treats are:
Since neurology deals with your brain and entire nervous system, there are many conditions that a neurologist can diagnose and treat. Many go on to study a specific subset of neurology after they finish their residency training.
A specialist might focus their training on:
- Headache medicine medicine
- Neuromuscular medicine
- Neurocritical care
- Geriatric neurology
- Autonomic disorders
- Vascular (stroke care) neurology
- Child (pediatric) neurology
- Interventional neuroradiology
Neurological Exam and Procedures
When you see the neurologist, they’ll talk with you about your medical history and your symptoms. You’ll also have a physical exam that focuses on your brain and nerves.
The neurologist may check your:
- Mental status
- Sensation (how well you feel things)
They may have a good idea of your diagnosis from the exam, but you’ll probably need other tests to confirm it. Depending on your symptoms, these might include:
and urine tests to look for infections, toxins, or protein disorders of the brain or spine to look for tumors, brain damage, or problems with your blood vessels, bones, nerves, or disks
- A study of your brain function called an electroencephalograph, or EEG. This is done if you’re having seizures. Small patches, called electrodes, are put on your scalp, and they’re connected to a machine by wires. The machine records the electrical activity in your brain.
- A test of the communication between a nerve and the muscle it works with called an electromyogram, or EMG. This is done with electrodes on your skin or a needle put into a muscle.
- A series of tests called evoked potentials to measure your brain’s response to stimulation of your hearing, vision, and certain nerves. These are similar to an EEG, except your doctor will make sounds or flash lights to see how your brain responds.
- A small amount of fluid is taken from your spine to look for blood or infection. This is called a spinal tap or lumbar puncture.
- A muscle or nerve biopsy to look for signs of certain neuromuscular disorders. A small amount of tissue is taken and looked at under a microscope.
- A Tensilon test can help diagnose myasthenia gravis, a condition that weakens your muscles. Your doctor gives you a medicine called edrophonium (Tensilon) to see if it strengthens certain muscles and relieves your weakness temporarily.
Prepare for Your Neurologist Visit
It helps to prepare for your consultation:
- Write down your symptoms and other health information, including medications, allergies, previous illnesses, and your family’s history of disease.
- Make a list of your questions.
- Have your previous test results sent to the neurologist, or take them with you.
- Bring a friend or family member to make sure you don’t miss anything.
The neurologist will probably give you a lot of information, so you may want to take notes. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you’re confused about something. Make sure you understand your diagnosis and treatment and any further steps you need to take.
American Academy of Neurology: “Working with Your Doctor,” “Preparing for an Office Visit.”
University of Rochester Medical Center: “What is a Neurologist?”
Emory Healthcare: “Neurology: Conditions & Treatments.”
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke: “Neurological Diagnostic Tests and Procedures.”
If you or a loved one has unexplained symptoms that could be related to the brain or nervous system, your doctor may recommend a neurological exam with a specialist.
Neurologists are specialists who treat diseases of the brain and spinal cord, peripheral nerves and muscles. Neurological conditions include epilepsy, stroke, multiple sclerosis (MS) and Parkinson’s disease.
Dr. Nhu Bruce, neurologist at Houston Methodist, also commonly sees patients for:
If you’re experiencing these symptoms, you probably have a lot of questions.
Common reasons to visit a neurologist
“A thorough neurological exam is the most important tool I have as a neurologist,” Dr. Bruce explains. “It can help differentiate and localize the causes of common complaints.”
Dr. Bruce says these are the six signs that it is time to visit a neurologist.
Chronic or severe headaches
If you get migraine headaches, you should probably make an appointment with a neurologist, especially when the symptoms are associated with neurological deficits or tried treatments prove ineffective.
When pain is chronic, and your primary care doctor can’t help you manage it, you should consider a referral to a neurologist because there could be another underlying reason for the symptoms.
Experiencing vertigo (feeling like you’re spinning) or having difficulty keeping your balance could be a sign of something more serious.
Numbness or tingling
Numbness or tingling, especially when it occurs on one side of the body or comes on suddenly, could be a sign of a stroke or other serious condition.
Difficulty walking, shuffling your feet, tremors and unintentional jerks, can all be signs of a nervous system problem.
Memory problems or confusion
Worsening memory problems, personality changes or mixing up words could be signs of Alzheimer’s disease.
What to expect during a neurological exam
A neurologist can help identify the cause of symptoms and create a treatment plan for both common and complex neurological conditions.
During a neurological exam, instruments, such as lights and reflex hammers, may be used to assess the nervous system. Motor skills, balance, coordination and mental status may also be tested.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an example of a complex condition that may be best treated by a neurologist.
“MS has various forms, and the treatment options have changed significantly over recent years,” Dr. Bruce says.
Patients can benefit from the expertise of a neurologist who is familiar with the latest research and treatment options for MS and other neurological conditions.
Multiple sclerosis is a potentially disabling disorder of the brain as well as the spinal cord. In this disease, the immune system attacks the protective sheath called myelin that covers nerve fibres and causes communication problems between the brain and the rest of the body. Eventually, the disease can cause the nerves to weaken or become permanently damaged. This can lead to a number of symptoms like blurring of vision, weakness of body, difficulty in walking, imbalance and urinary problems.
If a patient has these symptoms or a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, a neurologist consultation is essential and once this decision is taken, there is still another vital decision to make – choosing the best neurologist. A neurologist’s knowledge and expertise play a considerable role in diagnosing neurological diseases and minimising neurological disabilities. Getting treatment from the best neurologist in best hospital in Delhi ensures a quick recovery. Dr. Kapil Kumar Singhal, Senior Consultant – Neurology, Max Super Speciality Hospital, Vaishali, mentions below few factors that one has to keep in mind to find the neurologist in Delhi, when suffering from multiple Sclerosis.
The patient should start by reviewing the referral list that their primary care doctor laid out for them. More referrals can be added to the list by asking friends, family, and other healthcare providers. It is essential to take time to enquire the doctor’s credentials and experience through a reliable source. We at Max Healthcare, are termed as the one of the best brain hospital and neurology hospital in Delhi and have a specialised and immensely skilled panel of doctors.
Certification is one of the leading factors to keep in mind when choosing a neurologist. Credentials, training, as well as the education of a neurologist help in determining the qualification of a neurologist. It exhibit’s a doctor’s experience and skills required to treat multiple sclerosis. The results entirely depend on the neurologist’s knowledge and expertise to diagnose this neurological disease.
Consider the Neurologist’s Experience
When a person is facing potentially disabling neurological problems, the experience of a neurologist is valued. The more experience a neurologist has with a condition, the better the results will be. Also, do not forget to inquire about the doctor’s experience in treating MS cases. MS is a disease in which a lot of research is going on internationally and a number of new treatments options are coming up. A neurologist who is updated with the recent advances can be the right person for a MS patient. One should not take risks with their multiple sclerosis treatment and visit a neurologist immediately.
Research/Tertiary care Hospital Quality
It is essential to consider the quality of care at the hospital where the neurologist treats their patients. Hospital quality matters because patients at top hospitals with good ratings tend to have lesser complications and far better survival rates. Moreover, it is crucial for the patient to consider the hospital’s location as the patient has to regularly visit the hospital for tests or treatment, so the travel should be hassle-free and less time taking.
Multiple sclerosis requires a team approach, where neurologist, radiologist, rehabilitation and other ancillary services play a very important role in providing a comprehensive care to the patient. MS requires a number of investigations like MRI, ophthalmology evaluation, laboratory investigations and other electrophysiology like VEP. It is of utmost importance that these services are available at the same hospital for patient’s convenience as well as coordination between all departments involved in patient management.
Evaluate Communication Style
Patients should choose doctors with whom they are comfortable talking and who support their information needs. Multiple sclerosis is a complex disease which demands accurate as well as trustful conversations between the patient and the neurologist. Multiple sclerosis is a disease in which a number of treatment decisions require discussions between patient and doctor whether it is for modification for treatment or for rehabilitation. It is always a right decision to choose a neurologist who is easily approachable by the patient, who considers their treatment preferences, and also ensures that there is an active two-way communication with the patient.
The parameters mentioned above are necessary to consider when looking for a neurologist for MS treatment. Ultimately, neurologists who have hands-on experience with a particular condition tend to have the best results. Choosing a neurologist who has the expertise and experience to develop an effective treatment plan which is as per the recent/latest guidelines as well as suiting the patients needs is highly important. Multiple Sclerosis a complex disease and getting the care a patient needs are best handled by a neurologist who specialises in treating this disease.
Neurologists specialize in studying and treating the brain and nervous system. They diagnose and treat problems that include Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, stroke, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), epilepsy, migraine, and concussion. Here’s information about what they do and why you might someday get a referral to see one.
What Does a Neurologist Do?
Neurologists study and treat nervous system problems. Your nervous system includes your brain, spinal cord, and nerves in the rest of your body.
Some other conditions neurologists treat include:
- Brain and spinal cord injuries
- Speech and language disorders
- Infections of the brain and peripheral nervous system
- Muscle weakness
Neurologists don’t do surgery. That’s what neurosurgeons do. These two types of doctors work together to treat some conditions.
You might use a neurologist as your main doctor if you have a neurological condition. Or, your neurologist might diagnose your problem and then work with your regular doctor.
How to Become a Neurologist
In the United States, neurologists attend 4 years of college, 4 years of medical school, 1 year of internship, and then at least 3 years of training in a neurology residency program.
Neurologists can also have extra training in:
Pediatric neurologists treat children from birth to adolescence. They address many of the same conditions that adults have. They also have training to manage developmental problems and genetic conditions.
When to See a Neurologist
If you’re worried about symptoms that might be neurological, talk to your regular doctor. Your doctor might help you manage the problem or suggest you see a neurologist. There are many symptoms that could prompt a referral to a neurologist, including:
- Severe headaches
- Prolonged numbness or tingling or numbness on one side of the body , including pain with weakness or numbness
- Intense muscle weakness
- Problems walking that affect daily activities
- Certain vision problems
- Changes in your personality
- Trouble speaking
- Memory problems
Some neurologic problems, when they arise suddenly, can be signs of stroke. Some of the signs you should be aware of and get help for include:
- Tingling or numbness
- Weakness in your arm, hand, or leg
- Numbness on one side of your body
- Sudden trouble speaking
- Abrupt loss of vision
If you think you may be having a stroke, call 911.
What to Expect at Your Appointment
Your neurologist will ask all about your health history. You will also have a physical exam to test your coordination, reflexes, sight, strength, mental state, and sensation. The neurologist may order other tests such as:
- MRI: This test uses magnetic fields and radio waves to take pictures of your inner brain. You’ll lie down inside a machine for about 30 minutes.
- Computerized Tomography (CT) or Computer-Assisted Tomography (CAT) scans:X-rays and computers create multi-dimensional images of your body. A health care provider might inject dye to make arteries, blood vessels, tumors, or other areas visible in the image.
- Electroencephalogram (EEG): Electrodes attached to your scalp record your brain’s electrical activity.
- Transcranial Doppler (TCD): An ultrasound probe placed on your head measures blood flow in your brain by using sound waves.
- Spinal Tap or Lumbar Puncture: A doctor numbs your back and removes spinal fluid with a needle. Doctors can then check for bleeding, infection, and other disorders.
- Electromyogram (EMG): This test tracks electrical activity in your muscles and nerves to help find the cause of pain, numbness, and weakness. The doctor inserts small needles into your muscles to test activity. The doctor delivers mild shocks on the surface of your body to record nerve activity.
In addition to a physical exam and tests, you could receive a lot of information at your appointment. It can be helpful to bring a family member or friend with you. The person you bring can help listen, ask questions, and take notes.
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American Academy of Neurology: “What Is a Neurologist?”
University of Rochester Highland Hospital Neurology: “What Is a Neurologist?”
Merck Manuals: “Overview of the Peripheral Nervous System.”
Brain & Life/American Academy of Neurology: “Working With Your Neurologist.”
University of Utah Health: “Should You See a Neurologist?”
Harvard Health Publishing: “Know the Signs of Stroke.”
Brain & Life/American Academy of Neurology: “Preparing For an Office Visit.”
How do you find an MS neurologist who meets your needs? Follow this practical expert advice.
Successful management of multiple sclerosis (MS) often requires a team of medical professionals, and that team should include a neurologist.
"MS is a chronic illness that affects the central nervous system, and so it’s important to have someone who has knowledge of the pathophysiology of MS, the consequences and outcome of MS, and the new profile of treatment for MS," says Aliza Ben-Zacharia, a nurse practitioner and an assistant professor of neurology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.
“MS is not a temporary disease,” Ben-Zacharia says. “You need to have follow-up with the neurologist for the rest of your life. It’s important that the neurologist fits your life and properly communicates with you.”
You may need to meet with several neurologists to find someone who matches your individual needs.
"When I was first diagnosed with MS, the doctor handed me a piece of paper with options for different medications and told me to pick one," says Michael Weiss, who was diagnosed with MS in 2004. "Then he left the room."
Weiss continued searching until he found a doctor who took the time to get to know him.
"She spent two hours with me on my first visit," Weiss says. "She asked me about my lifestyle, my kids, and my work. She was able to get a much better idea of the medications [that would] work best for my needs."
As a result, Weiss has been able to manage his MS symptoms well and lead an active life.
Questions to Ask Your Prospective Neurologist
Setting up a consultation to meet and interview a physician and staff is a good way to get a sense of whether you can trust and rely on a particular doctor throughout the course of your MS treatment.
"The needs of multiple sclerosis patients vary widely," says Adrienne Boissy, MD, chief experience officer at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. Dr. Boissy suggests asking prospective neurologists the following questions:
- Are you fellowship-trained in multiple sclerosis? Fellowships require one to three years of additional study in the area of multiple sclerosis. Neurologists who complete such programs are generally more attuned to the needs of an MS patient.
- How much of your time is spent seeing MS patients versus general neurology patients? Although the answer to this question will vary depending on the practice, it's a good sign if the majority of the doctor's patients have MS.
- Are you engaged in any clinical trials related to MS?Clinical trials can give people with multiple sclerosis access to newer, potentially beneficial therapies. While not all neurologists run clinical trials themselves, they may be active in helping their patients enroll in trials for which they’re eligible.
- How many of your patients are currently on new MS therapies? This gives you an idea of whether the doctor is keeping up with new MS treatments. It may also tell you how aggressive or conservative the doctor is with regard to experimental treatment.
- Does your office offer infusions? Some MS drugs, including the steroids used to treat MS relapses, are delivered intravenously (directly into a vein). Traditionally, infusions are administered in hospitals, so in-office infusions could save you a trip to a hospital or other facility.
- Are you comfortable integrating alternative therapies into an MS treatment plan? If you think you might want to explore alternative treatments for MS, you'll want to be sure that your doctor is open to considering the options with you.
Communicating With Your MS Doctor
Along with receiving proper medical care, developing a working relationship with your doctor is an important part of your MS treatment.
"Your doctor should make you feel cared for and listened to," Boissy says. "If you don't feel a connection, move on."
You should feel comfortable telling your physician your goals for treatment, asking for an explanation if you don't understand a particular term or instruction, and asking how long you should expect to wait for test results.
Pay attention to the nuances, adds Ben-Zacharia. “Do they look you in the eye? Do they listen to you? Are they answering your questions fully, or do you feel rushed?”
You should also feel comfortable about getting a second opinion if you want one. If you ever feel as though you and your physician are simply not compatible, don't be afraid to make a switch. Your health and happiness are what's most important.
Where to Start Your Search for an MS Doctor
When you're ready to start looking for a neurologist who specializes in multiple sclerosis, begin by asking your primary care physician for referrals. You can also contact a multiple sclerosis support group to get recommendations from other people being treated for MS.
In addition, you might use the "Find a Neurologist" tools at the sites of the American Academy of Neurologists and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
Medical expertise is important, but communication skills are, too. As Boissy says, "You also have to trust your gut" when deciding whether a particular neurologist is a good fit for you.
To receive the best care, you should always first consult your primary care doctor. He or she might recommend you see a neurologist, if they are unable to treat your symptoms properly. It is good to be aware then of what a neurologist does and the symptoms they treat.
A neurologist is a specialist who treats diseases in the brain and spinal cord (the central nervous system), peripheral nerves (nerves connecting the brain and spine to the organs, like the lungs or liver), and muscles. Neurological diseases can include headaches; epilepsy; stroke; movement disorders, such as tremor or Parkinson’s disease; and many others. Read more below about the most common symptoms of neurological disease.
Top 10 Reasons You May Want to See a Neurologist
Headaches are something we all experience. We can feel them stretching into our sinuses, across the top of our head, down through the muscles of the head, neck, and shoulders or along the base of the skull and brain. They can be caused by many conditions from a sinus infection to a throbbing toothache from a visit to the dentist.
Symptoms of more serious headaches, including migraines, may be vomiting, a headache that becomes more severe or is continuous, a headache that comes on suddenly or pain that is worsened by strain, a headache that starts early in the morning, changes in vision, or even seizures.
If your headache symptoms are severe enough, your primary care doctor may refer you to a neurologist.
2. Chronic pain
Chronic pain is pain that lasts for months or even years. This pain can be the result of illness or injury, but when it lasts longer than the usual recovery time, it can become a symptom of a different problem.
When this pain is not something your primary care physician can help you manage, you may choose to see a neurologist, especially if you have other symptoms along with the pain like weakness, numbness, or problems with bladder or bowel control.
Dizziness can come in different varieties. Neurologists treat dizziness that is a symptom of vertigo or disequilibrium. Vertigo makes you feel as if you or the things around you are spinning; disequilibrium is difficulty keeping your balance.
Your primary care doctor can help you decide if your dizziness is severe enough to see a neurologist.
4. Numbness or tingling
Numbness or tingling can happen for many different reasons, some as simple as sitting in a way that cuts off your blood circulation or having not eaten. However, if this numbness continues, comes on suddenly, or only happens on one side of the body, it may be time to see a neurologist.
Numbness or tingling symptoms like those described can also be signs of a stroke, in which case you need to get help very quickly. While your primary care doctor can help you evaluate these symptoms, if you think you are having a stroke, get immediate medical help.
Feelings of weakness that you should see a doctor for are different than tiredness or muscle aches after a long hike or lifting too many weights. You should consult your provider if you experience muscle weakness that impacts your daily activities or a rapid decline in muscle strength, especially in your arms and legs. It could be caused by a more serious condition or disease of your nervous system, such as stroke.
6. Movement problems
Problems moving, like difficulty walking, being clumsy, unintentional jerks or movements, tremors, or others, can be symptoms of a problem in your nervous system. You may want to see a neurologist if these movement problems interrupt your daily life, though something like a tremor can be a side effect of medication or anxiety. However, if your tremors also affect your daily activities, you may want to see a neurologist.
Seizures can be almost unnoticeable or very extreme. Symptoms of seizures can range from staring to loss of consciousness, jerking movements of the arms and legs, breathing problems, confusion, or loss of consciousness.
While some seizures could be caused by low blood sugar or withdrawals from addictive substances, you should consult your provider for seizures that seem sudden or without any obvious cause. Your primary care doctor can help you determine how serious your seizure is and if you should see a neurologist.
8. Vision problems
Difficulty seeing can be caused by aging or by the nervous system. If the difficulty is sudden and happens in both eyes, you may want to have your vision evaluated. Either an eye doctor or your primary care doctor can advise you on whether you should see a neurologist about your vision problem.
9. Memory problems or confusion
Problems speaking, extreme problems with memory, changes in personality, or confusion are all symptoms that could be caused by disorders or problems in the brain, spine, and nerves. Some of the symptoms may be due to learning disabilities or they may be caused by a disease like Alzheimer’s.
Your primary care doctor can help you examine your symptoms and decide if you need to see a neurologist.
10. Sleep problems
While we know many obvious causes of sleep problems, going to bed too late, having a condition like sleep apnea or anxiety, nightmares, or others, some sleep problems are neurological disorders. An example of this is narcolepsy, which is a chronic, genetic disorder with no known cause that affects the body’s central nervous system.
Many of these symptoms could be part of a disorder that is not neurological. Your primary care doctor is your greatest resource in helping you decide if you should see a neurologist. However, if your symptoms are severe enough or you are still not confident in your primary care doctor’s recommendations, you may need to make an appointment with a neurologist.
A neurologist is a medical doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating, and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system including, but not limited to, Alzheimer’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), concussion, epilepsy, migraine, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and stroke.
A child or pediatric, neurologist specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of neurologic disorders in children from the neonatal period through adolescence. Some of the conditions overlap with those seen by adult neurologists, and others are unique to this younger population. Child neurologists treat many of the same common conditions found in adults such as migraine, epilepsy, stroke, and Tourette’s and are also trained in conditions related to neurogenetics and developmental problems.
What Does a Neurologist Do?
Neurologists are highly trained clinicians capable of diagnosing complex conditions through detailed history and physical examination, including testing of mental status, vision, speech, strength, sensation, coordination, reflexes, and gait. Even as medicine becomes more dependent on technology, the neurological exam will remain a critical component of the patient evaluation.
Some common neurologic tests used to complete the evaluation include:
- Computed tomography (CT) or computer-assisted tomography (CAT) scans
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- Electroencephalography (EEG)
- Nerve conduction studies and electromyography (NCS/EMG)
- Lumbar puncture (LP) for cerebral spinal fluid analysis
We are different from neurosurgeons as we do not perform brain or spinal cord surgery. However, neurologists and neurosurgeons work closely together for several conditions, sometimes even in the operating room together.
General neurologists perform various procedures including LP and NCS/EMG. Subspecialty-trained neurologists also perform intraoperative brain and spine monitoring, autonomic testing, endovascular procedures including angiograms and coiling of aneurysms, botulinum toxin injections, skin and muscle biopsies.
Why Choose Neurology?
Curious why neurology would make a strong career, or what neurologists treat?
How to become a neurologist
Ready to become a neurologist or just curious as to what it would take?
Your career in neurology
What does it mean to have a career in neurology?
Make a Difference with Neurology
Neurology is an exciting and fast-growing field that creates real-life solutions that help everyday people.
Neurologists diagnose, treat and manage conditions affecting the brain and spinal cord, and disorders of the nerves and muscles that activate movement and transmit sensations from around the body to the brain.
Life as a neurologist
You’ll treat any disease that affects neurological function. For example, high blood pressure is a cardiac problem, but becomes a neurological issue if a sudden loss of blood to the brain causes a stroke. This is a role with a great deal of variety, as there are more diseases in neurology than in most medical specialities.
You’ll diagnose new patients with neurological problems and refer them for further investigations before following up and managing longer term problems such as epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease. You’ll also treat infectious diseases such as meningitis and diseases which result in weakness or sensory impairment.
Your work could involve seeing new and follow up patients in an outpatients’ clinic, regional centre or hospital. You may also see patients in hospital on ward rounds and will probably spend time during the week at a regional centre in academic meetings with other neurological colleagues. You’ll generally work sociable hours with a moderate on-call commitment.
You’ll enjoy this role if you like complex problem solving. You’ll treat a range of conditions, for example someone who presents with a headache, or patients with brain tumours or life-changing conditions such as motor neurone disease or Alzheimer’s disease. Neurology is changing rapidly with advances in diagnosis, treatment and therapy for conditions such as multiple sclerosis (MS), making it an exciting choice of career.
How much can I earn?
You’ll first earn a salary when you start your foundation training after medical school. The basic salary ranges from £29,384 to £34,012. Once you start your specialty training as a neurologist employed by the NHS, you can expect to earn a salary of at least £40,257, which can increase to between £84,559 and £114,003 as a consultant.
How about the benefits?
- make a difference
- flexible and part-time working
- high income early in your career
- work anywhere in the world
- excellent pension scheme
- good holiday entitlement
- NHS discounts in shops and restaurants
- excellent communication skills to manage a wide range of relationships with colleagues, and patients and their families
- emotional resilience, a calm temperament and the ability to work well under pressure
- teamwork and the capacity to lead multidisciplinary teams
- problem-solving and diagnostic skills
- outstanding organisational ability and effective decision-making skills
- first-class time and resource management for the benefit of patients
Your first step is medical school. Typically, you’ll need excellent GCSEs and three A or A* passes at A level including chemistry for a five-year undergraduate degree in medicine. Many medical schools also ask for biology and others may require maths or physics.
If you already have a degree, you could study for a four-year postgraduate degree in medicine.
You’ll need to pass an interview and admissions test. You’ll be asked to show how you demonstrate the NHS values such as compassion and respect.
Some medical schools look to recruit a mix of students from different backgrounds and geographical areas, so your educational and economic background and family circumstances could be considered as part of your application.
What are my chances of starting a career in neurology?
In 2020 there were 207 applications for 50 specialty training places.
How to become a neurologist
After medical school, you’ll join the paid two-year foundation programme where you’ll work in six placements in different settings.
After your foundation programme, you can apply for paid specialty training to become a neurologist, which will take a minimum of five years.
You may be able to train part time, for example for health reasons or if you have family or caring responsibilities.