To diagnose a weakness disorder, your neurologist will gather as much information as possible.
The first step revolves around your medical history. This is perhaps the most important step of diagnosing weakness. Your neurologist will ask you about your medical history, which includes the following questions:
- Do you have any current illnesses?
- What diseases/infections did you develop in the past?
- Are you taking any medications?
- Are there any neurological disorders that run in your family?
- Do you have any other symptoms besides weakness?
- Are you experiencing any pain?
- How muscle weakness is impacting your daily life?
After gathering the necessary information from your medical history, it is time for the physical examination. Your neurologist will conduct a comprehensive physical exam that includes checking your reflexes and assessing muscle strength/size.
Using a measuring tape, he/she will compare the size of your muscles on both sides. For instance, the neurologist will measure the diameter of your calf muscles to see if one side is undergoing amyotrophy.
The final step of diagnosing muscle weakness focuses on ordering some imaging tests. Depending on the suspected diagnosis, your neurologist may order different tests.
If you recently had a stroke, an MRI is useful to determine the damaged areas of the cerebral cortex. It is also very helpful in assessing spinal cord injury.
Once all the data points to a single diagnosis, your doctor will confirm it.