Preparing for your appointment

You might first consult your family doctor about signs and symptoms of ALS. Your family doctor will talk to you about your symptoms and do an initial physical examination. Then your doctor will probably refer you to a doctor trained in nervous system conditions (neurologist) for further evaluation.

What you can do

You may need many tests to diagnose your condition, and this process can be stressful and frustrating. These strategies may give you a greater sense of control.

  • Keep a symptom diary. Before you see a neurologist, start using a calendar or notebook to jot down when and how you notice problems with walking, hand coordination, speech, swallowing or involuntary muscle movements. Your notes may show a pattern that's helpful for your diagnosis.
  • Find a neurologist and care team. An integrated care team led by your neurologist usually is most appropriate for your ALS care. Your team should communicate and be familiar with your individual needs.

    An integrated team may prolong survival and improve your quality of care.

What to expect from your doctor

Your family doctor will carefully review your family's medical history and your signs and symptoms. Your neurologist and your family doctor may conduct a physical and neurological examination, which may include testing:

  • Reflexes
  • Muscle strength
  • Muscle tone
  • Senses of touch and sight
  • Coordination
  • Balance
Sept. 22, 2016
References
  1. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) fact sheet. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/amyotrophiclateralsclerosis/ALS.htm. Accessed July 12, 2016.
  2. Elman LB. Clinical features of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and other forms of motor neuron disease. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed July 12, 2016.
  3. Maragakis NJ. Epidemiology and pathogenesis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed July 12, 2016.
  4. McCluskey L. Familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed July 12, 2016.
  5. Ingre C, et al. Risk factors for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Clinical Epidemiology. 2015;7:181.
  6. Crum BA (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. July 25, 2016.
  7. Galvez-Jimenez N. Symptom-based management of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed July 12, 2016.
  8. Elman LB, et al. Diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and other forms of motor neuron disease. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed July 12, 2016.
  9. Miller RG, et al. Practice parameter update: The care of the patient with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: Multidisciplinary care, symptom management, and cognitive/behavioral impairment (an evidence-based review): Report of the Quality Standards Subcommittee of the American Academy of Neurology. Neurology. 2009;73:1227.
  10. Neurological diagnostic tests and procedures. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/misc/diagnostic_tests.htm. Accessed July 12, 2016.
  11. Choudry RB, et al. Disease modifying treatment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed July 12, 2016.
  12. ALS Association chapter support groups. The ALS Association. , http://www.alsa.org/community/support-groups/. Accessed July 12, 2016.
  13. Services in your community. The ALS Association. http://www.alsa.org/community/certified-centers/. Accessed July 12, 2016.
  14. Riggin ER. Allscripts EPSi. Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. May 10, 2016.