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Multiple Sclerosis: Why See a Specialist?

By

Allie Lemco Toren

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This content is created or selected by the Healthgrades editorial team and is funded by an advertising sponsor. The content is subject to the Healthgrades medical review process for accuracy, balance and objectivity. The content is not edited or otherwise influenced by the advertisers appearing on this page except with the possible suggestion of the broad topic area. For more information, read the HealthGrades advertising policy.

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The Basics of Multiple Sclerosis

What happens after an MS diagnosis? A doctor explains what the condition is and how it's treated.
Hispanic doctor explaining pamphlet to client in office

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a complex disease that affects everyone differently. That’s why all MS patients should follow unique treatment plans tailored to their specific needs. But your primary care doctor may not have all the information you need to manage your MS successfully. That’s where specialists come in: an MS specialist, called a neurologist, has the right skills and insight to help you stay in control of your MS. Here’s why:

1. A neurologist completes extensive training in MS and is an expert in MS care.

A neurologist is a physician who specializes in treating diseases related to the nervous system—including your brain, spinal cord, and nerves. The nervous system is involved in many aspects of human health, so neurologists must train extensively to master this area of study. A neurologist will have expertise in treating MS and other conditions related to the nervous system.

All doctors complete a training program called a residency after they finish medical school. But neurologists receive considerable training beyond that. Neurologists spend several additional years in a fellowship, during which they train under experienced neurologists and focus on patients with MS and issues affecting the nervous system. At the end of this period, specialists are qualified to take an exam to become board-certified neurologists. Look for a doctor who is board certified in neurology, and you’ll know you’re seeing an expert. 

2. A neurologist never stops learning about MS.

To maintain their board certifications, neurologists must keep up with new developments in their field. They must complete continuing education and renew their licenses every few years, depending on the state in which they practice and other factors. By following these requirements, board-certified neurologists stay on top of new treatments and discoveries about the mechanisms involved in MS, so they can then provide their patients with insightful, informed, and up-to-date treatment plans.

3. A neurologist has extensive experience in treating MS.

Neurologists see a higher volume and concentration of patients with MS, and thus are more experienced in treating the condition successfully. Because they see lots of patients with MS, they can add real-world knowledge of the disease to their academic and clinical training. They’re able to assess how well patients respond to certain treatments, have a deeper understanding of how MS progresses over time, share insight about effectively implementing lifestyle changes, and recognize symptoms that a general practitioner may miss, among other skills.

4. A neurologist is a team player.

Neurologists work with teams of other health care providers who treat patients with MS and can connect patients with physiatrists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, nutritionists, psychologists, speech/language pathologists, and other experts in MS management. Working with a team can help patients address all aspects of the disease and ensure success.

5. It’s easy to find the right neurologist for you.

There are thousands of neurologists in the United States, so how do you know which is the right doctor for you? By searching on Healthgrades.com, you can identify the best neurologist to help you manage your MS successfully.

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Medical Reviewers: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Jan 9, 2017

© 2016 Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the Healthgrades User Agreement.

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