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You and Your Doctor

Finding the right doctor can drastically improve how supported and educated you feel, and how well your Parkinson’s symptoms are managed. If you or a loved one has Parkinson’s, you may already realize how crucial finding the right doctor is to feeling supported and healthy. Or perhaps you find your relationship with your doctor unsatisfying and you don’t really know what the right questions are to ask.

 

For more information on important questions to ask your doctor, read:

For those newly diagnosed, you may not be sure where to find a trusted, knowledgeable doctor.  Read more below about:

How To Find a Doctor

If you have Parkinson’s, you should consider:

  • Seeing a neurologist who specializes in movement disorders
  • Seeing a doctor that is up-to-date on research and approaches to therapy
  • Getting a second opinion (making an accurate diagnosis of Parkinson's - especially in its early stages - is difficult. A skilled practitioner can come to a reasoned conclusion that it is Parkinson's, but it is always a good idea to get a second opinion.)
Finding a Doctor in Your Area:
  • Contact PDF for a referral
  • Look for a Movement Disorder Center on the PD Resource List
  • Ask your primary care physician for a referral
  • Seek referrals from other people living with Parkinson's
  • Contact your insurance provider for a list of neurologists or movement disorder specialists in your network
General Neurologist vs. Movement Disorder Specialist

What is a movement disorder specialist? Why should you see one?

A movement disorder specialist is a doctor, a neurologist in fact, who is trained specifically to treat movement disorders.  Parkinson’s disease is a movement disorder – a neurological condition that affects movement. Other movement disorders include dystonia, Tourette’s syndrome and Huntington’s disease. Movement disorder specialists must complete their residency training in neurology and then complete additional training (a fellowship) in movement disorders.

These are the most qualified doctors to treat Parkinson’s disease because of their in-depth knowledge of the disease, its symptoms, medications and current research (including relevant clinical trials).

PDF recommends that each person with Parkinson’s see a movement disorder specialist. There may not be a movement disorder specialist in your area.  In this case you may still be able to receive good care by finding the right general neurologist or even gerontologist, internist or general practitioner - especially if they are willing to consult with a movement specialist as needed.


How To Find the Right Doctor For You

The first step is finding a qualified physician. The second is considering whether the physician is the right one.

You should feel comfortable in this relationship and feel that it is a good “match.” If not, perhaps you need to find a new doctor that can work better with you and your family.

Is your doctor right for you? Consider these questions:

  • Are you comfortable speaking with your physician?
  • Do you feel respected by your doctor?
  • Are questions answered to your satisfaction or do you come away from a visit feeling that you have not been taken seriously?
  • Can you get in touch with the doctor between visits?
  • Ask your physician, How long should I expect to wait for a return phone call?
  • Does your physician have a back up physician in lieu of his/her absence?
  • You may even decide to interview a neurologist before you make a definite selection. Asking questions like, "What happens if I have new symptoms, or if questions arise between visits?"

Visiting Your Doctor

When To Visit
Most people with PD are advised to see their doctor every three to six months, especially if they are taking anti-Parkinson medications. If a person is experiencing problems with his or her condition or treatment, more frequent visits may be warranted. Some people remain in regular contact with their doctors by telephone, fax and email. For people who urgently need to speak with their physician or schedule a visit, the most direct method of contact is the telephone.

Related Resources from the PD Resource List

Seeking Out a Specialist
Category: Newly Diagnosed
Resource Type: Publications
Publication Date: 2012
Author: Parkinson's Disease Foundation
Publisher: Parkinson's Disease Foundation
Cost: Free
Toll Free: (800) 457-6676
Email: info@pdf.org
Associated URL: www.pdf.org/en/factsheets
Address: 1359 Broadway, Suite 1509
City: New York Zip: 10018
Language: English
State: New York
This fact sheet offers in-depth information and practical tips on choosing the right doctor. It includes facts about why it's important to see a Parkinson's specialist. Also offered in: Spanish.

View All Movement Disorder Centers Listed in the PD Resource List