WellSpan Home

Neurological Examination for Multiple Sclerosis

Exam Overview

Before conducting a neurological examination for multiple sclerosis (MS), the doctor will collect information about your symptoms. The kinds of symptoms, as well as how and when they occur, are important in evaluating whether you might have MS. Even symptoms that you might have had several years ago can be important.

The neurological examination will cover both how well you think and how well you move.

Mental ability and emotional condition

The doctor may ask you to repeat a series of numbers or answer simple questions about dates, places, and current events. The doctor can usually judge your emotional condition during the exam by paying attention to your actions and statements.

If the doctor suspects mental problems caused by multiple sclerosis (MS), he or she may order tests designed to identify more subtle changes than the ones that may be evident from the brief mental section of the neurological examination.

Coordination, strength, senses, and reflexes

The doctor will look for injury to the 12 pairs of nerves in the head (cranial nerves) that relate to:

  • Sense of smell.
  • Sense of taste.
  • Vision.
  • Eye movement.
  • Sensation in the face and scalp.
  • Muscle coordination in the face and neck.
  • Hearing and balance.
  • Swallowing and the gag reflex.
  • Movement of the tongue.

To evaluate muscle strength, the doctor will have you push with the arms and legs against the doctor's hand. Dexterity, muscle tone, and muscle control will also be tested.

You will be examined for the ability to:

  • Feel pain (a pinprick), a light touch, temperature, and vibration (a tuning fork).
  • Sense the position of the arms or legs.

Also, your reflexes will be tested.

The neurological history and examination may take as long as 2 hours but usually take 1 hour or less.

Why It Is Done

A brief neurological examination is part of any complete physical exam. If you report symptoms that suggest a problem with the nervous system, the doctor may do a more thorough neurological exam. Such an exam will always be done if you have symptoms that suggest MS.

Results

Findings on the neurological exam may include the following.

Normal

All tested functions are within normal ranges.

Abnormal

Abnormal findings may include evidence of nervous system abnormalities, such as weakness, blindness, coordination or balance problems, or changes in sensation.

What To Think About

Because MS lesions (injured or inflamed nerve tissues) may be found in several locations on the brain and spinal cord, symptoms can vary greatly. Some lesions may not cause signs or symptoms that the doctor can evaluate during an exam. Other tests may be needed to help make the diagnosis, especially when there is a history of several attacks.

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerAdam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Karin M. Lindholm, DO - Neurology

Current as ofOctober 9, 2017


Are you sure you would like to cancel?

All information will be lost.

Yes No ×

About the provider search

This search will provide you with WellSpan Medical Group and Northern Lancaster County (Ephrata) Medical Group primary care physicians and specialists. If we don’t have a WellSpan Medical Group physician to meet your criteria, the search will expand to include community physicians who partner with WellSpan Medical Group physicians through the WellSpan Provider Network or provide care to patients on the Medical Staffs of WellSpan’s Hospitals.

×

Schedule Your Next Appointment Online with MyWellSpan

Use your MyWellSpan patient portal any time to view available appointments, and pick the date and time that best suits your schedule.

Go to MyWellSpan

New to this practice?

If you don't have a WellSpan primary care provider and would like to schedule a new patient appointment with a provider who is accepting patients, just log into your MyWellSpan account, and go to the Appointment Center section. As you progress through the scheduling process, you will be able to see the offices that are accepting new patients in relation to your zip code. If you are not enrolled in MyWellSpan, go to https://my.wellspan.org, call 1-866-638-1842 or speak with a member of the staff at a participating facility to sign up. New patient scheduling not available at all practices/programs.

Already a patient at this practice?

If you already have a relationship with a WellSpan practice, simply log into your account, and go to the Appointment Center section. As you progress through the scheduling process, you will be able to schedule an appointment with any provider or practice that already counts you as a patient. Online scheduling varies by practice/program.

×