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Finding a Neurologist and 14 Things To Ask About Relapsing MS Treatment

Written by Kelly Crumrin
Updated on January 2, 2024

If you have relapsing multiple sclerosis (MS), it’s important to find the best neurologist for your needs. Due to the changing landscape of treatment options, you need someone with up-to-date knowledge to help you make decisions. Whether your current treatment plan is effectively treating your MS or you’re thinking about switching disease-modifying treatments (DMTs), a good neurologist will be your partner in making informed choices.

Once you find your neurologist, you need to know what to ask. It can be just as important to know what to share with them. It’s vital to let them know about new symptoms, your personal treatment preferences, and any challenges you have with taking medication as prescribed.

This guide is designed to help you find a neurologist who has expertise in treating MS and facilitate a good conversation about your treatment goals.

Finding a Neurologist To Treat Multiple Sclerosis

When you’re dealing with relapsing MS, it’s important to find a neurologist who specializes in treating the condition. Neurologists who don’t have expertise in MS may give you incorrect information.

Some neurologists recognize that they aren’t experts in MS and will refer you to someone who is. As one MyMSTeam member said, “Not all neurologists are good MS neurologists. My neurologist sends patients to MS centers and noted MS neurologists.”


Your preferences matter. Let your doctor know how you are most comfortable taking a DMT.

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When looking for a neurologist, there are a few questions you can ask to get a feel for whether they might be a good match for you. Here are some you might consider:

  • How long have you been treating MS?
  • Do you have specialized training in or knowledge of MS?
  • Do you participate in research related to MS?
  • How much of your time is spent seeing patients diagnosed with MS, as compared to those with other conditions?

You should also consider practical factors, like:

  • Whether the neurologist takes your insurance
  • Where the office or clinic is located
  • Whether the neurologist speaks your preferred language

Finally, you should feel comfortable with a neurologist since you need to work with them long term. Make sure they’re willing to explain complex medical topics without condescension and they include you in any decisions about your treatment and care. If you want to bring a friend or family member with you to appointments, the doctor should be comfortable with that person’s presence, too.

It can take a long time to find a good neurologist who specializes in MS. MyMSTeam members know this well. One member shared, “It took me eight years to find a doctor that listened and ordered the right tests!” However, finding the right neurologist is worth the time and effort. Think of it as an investment in your future health.

While you’re looking, you can read about some of your possible treatment options. That way, you’ll be ready to have the conversations you need to have as soon as you get to your first appointment.

What To Tell Your Physician: Your Preferences and Priorities

Help your health care provider understand whether your condition is changing and what types of medication you prefer. When you meet with your doctor, tell them if you are experiencing new symptoms or worsening symptoms.

Consider the following aspects of MS treatment and make a note of what feels important to you, so you can let your health care professional know.


Be open with your doctor about any challenges you have in sticking to your treatment plan.

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How Do You Prefer To Take Disease-Modifying Therapy?

  • Orally at home
  • By injection at home
  • By intravenous (IV) infusion at a clinic
  • Any of these ways

What Is Your Preferred Dosing Schedule for Taking a DMT?

  • On a daily or weekly basis
  • Once every few weeks
  • As infrequently as possible
  • Any dosing schedule

Benefit vs. Risk

Which of these statements feels more true to you?

  • Taking a highly effective DMT is more important to me than avoiding rare but serious risks.
  • Avoiding rare but serious risks is more important to me than taking a highly effective DMT.

Newly Available vs. Long-Established Treatments

Which of these statements feels more true to you?

  • I am interested in taking a newly available DMT.
  • I prefer to take a DMT that has been available for many years.
  • I’d like to learn about participating in clinical trials for new MS treatments.

Possible Side Effects

Which of these statements feels more true to you?

  • I am most concerned about rare but serious potential side effects.
  • I am most concerned about common potential side effects that might affect my daily life.

Do You Have Trouble Sticking With Your Current Treatment Plan?

Be clear with your doctor about any challenges you experience in sticking to your current treatment plan. Do you experience any of the following issues?

  • I sometimes forget to take doses.
  • I dislike taking pills or injecting medication myself.
  • I sometimes skip doses due to side effects.
  • I sometimes skip doses because I don’t feel confident that my DMT is working.
  • I have trouble affording or accessing my DMT.
  • Other health conditions (or treatments I take for other health conditions) make it difficult for me to stick with my DMT.

14 Questions To Ask Your Doctor

These 14 questions can help you discover the information you need to make the best choices for your MS treatment. Look them over and make a note of any you’d like to bring up with your doctor at your next appointment.

My Current Treatment Plan

  1. Is my current DMT effectively treating my MS? Can you explain the criteria you use to determine this?
  2. Can you recommend ways to overcome challenges I face in taking my treatment?
  3. I experience side effects associated with my DMT. Can you recommend any ways to prevent or manage them?
  4. Can you recommend any ways to manage MS symptoms I experience?

Switching DMTs

  1. Do you think I might benefit from switching to a different DMT? Why or why not?
  2. If you recommend against switching now, should we set a time in the future to discuss it again?

Considering a New DMT

  1. Why do you think a new DMT may be more effective for me than my current treatment?
  2. What are the potential benefits and risks of switching to this treatment?
  3. Will I need a washout period to get my current treatment out of my system before beginning the new DMT? Is my risk for an MS flare higher during the washout period?
  4. What is my personal risk for developing rare but serious side effects with this treatment?
  5. How (and how often) will my risk for serious side effects be monitored while I’m taking this treatment?
  6. What are the most common side effects of this treatment? How long are they likely to last? Is there anything I can do to avoid or manage them?
  7. How long will it be before my new treatment begins taking effect?
  8. Which treatments are covered by my health care plan?

Managing Relapsing MS in Partnership With Your Doctor

MS is an autoimmune condition in which the immune system attacks the myelin coating on the nerve cells of the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord). The pattern of disease progression depends on the form of MS. Periodic flare-ups are the hallmark of the relapsing forms of MS:

  • Clinically isolated syndrome (CIS)
  • Relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS)
  • Active secondary progressive MS (SPMS)

It’s important to remember that MS can progress even without exacerbations, new lesions, or new symptoms of MS. This is why it’s so important to form a partnership with your neurologist and have regular follow-up visits, get MRI scans and blood tests as needed, and communicate openly about your symptoms and quality of life.

A good neurologist can also help you understand relapsing MS and give you information about how to know if you’re experiencing an MS relapse, how long a relapse might last, and what remission will look like.

Talk With Others Who Understand

On MyMSTeam, the social network for people with multiple sclerosis and their loved ones, more than 205,000 members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with those who understand life with MS.

Do you have tips for finding a good neurology specialist to treat relapsing MS? What other questions should people with MS ask their MS doctor? Share in the comments below, or start a conversation with others on MyMSTeam.

    Updated on January 2, 2024
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    Luc Jasmin, M.D., Ph.D., FRCS (C), FACS is a board-certified neurosurgery specialist. Learn more about him here
    Kelly Crumrin is a senior editor at MyHealthTeam and leads the creation of content that educates and empowers people with chronic illnesses. Learn more about her here

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