Tardive Dyskinesia: Why See a Specialist?
Tardive dyskinesia (TD) is a neurological disorder caused by the long-term use of certain medications, most commonly antipsychotics (also referred to as neuroleptics). People who treat their schizophrenia with antipsychotics have the highest risk of TD, but anyone taking these drugs for a long period of time can develop it. TD is characterized by involuntary muscle movements affecting the face, arms, legs, hands, feet, and other parts of the body. The most common symptoms include uncontrollable lip smacking and sucking, tongue thrusting, rapid eye blinking, and jerking of the arms and legs. Tardive dyskinesia can disrupt your ability to go about your daily routine and can be accompanied by embarrassment and anxiety. Fortunately, treatment options and strategies are available. The doctor who prescribed your antipsychotic or other medication that’s causing TD may be able to help treat your involuntary movements, but they may not have all the information required to manage your TD successfully. That’s where specialists come in: a tardive dyskinesia specialist, called a neurologist, has the right skills and insight to help you stay in control of your TD. Here’s why:
1. A neurologist completes extensive training in treating tardive dyskinesia.
A neurologist is a physician who specializes in treating diseases of the nervous system, which includes the brain and spinal cord. The nervous system is involved in many aspects of human health, so neurologists must train extensively to master this area of study. All doctors complete a training program called a residency after they finish medical school. But neurologists receive considerable training beyond that. Neurologists spend several additional years in a fellowship, in which they train under experienced neurologists and focus on patients with tardive dyskinesia and issues affecting the nervous system. At the end of this period, specialists are qualified to take an exam to become a board-certified neurologist. Look for a doctor who is board certified in neurology, and you’ll know you’re seeing an expert.
2. A neurologist never stops learning about tardive dyskinesia.
To maintain their board certifications, neurologists must keep up with new developments in their field. They must complete continuing education and renew their licenses every few years, depending on the state in which they practice and other factors. By following these requirements, board-certified neurologists stay on top of new treatments and discoveries about the mechanisms involved in tardive dyskinesia, so they can then provide their patients with insightful, informed, and up-to-date treatment plans. This is especially important since new treatments for TD have recently come to the market and more research is ongoing.
3. A neurologist has extensive experience treating tardive dyskinesia.
Neurologists see a higher volume and concentration of patients with tardive dyskinesia, and thus are more experienced in treating the condition successfully. Because they see lots of patients with TD, they can add real-world knowledge to their academic and clinical training. They’re able to assess how well patients respond to certain treatments, have a deeper understanding of how tardive dyskinesia progresses, share insight about effectively implementing lifestyle changes, and recognize symptoms that a general practitioner or psychiatrist may miss, among other skills.
4. A neurologist is a team player.
Neurologists work with teams of other health care providers who treat patients with tardive dyskinesia and can connect patients with other experts in TD management. Working with a team can help patients address all aspects of the condition and ensure success.
5. It's easy to find the right neurologist for you.
There are thousands of neurologists in the United States, so how do you know which is the right doctor for you? By searching on Healthgrades.com, you can identify the best neurologist to help you manage your tardive dyskinesia successfully.