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