Common Signs & Symptoms of MS include:
There is no single test that can diagnose MS. Diagnosis must therefore be made on the basis of the patients medical history, report of symptoms, and neurological examination. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is used to confirm a MS diagnosis. However, brain MRIs are normal in approximately 5% of patients with MS. A challenge in understanding MS is the observation that plaques can be "clinically silent." There is often no direct relationship between the number of lesions visualized on MRI and the severity of clinical symptoms.
Be prepared to answer the following question.
True or False. CAT scans are just as good as MRI for diagnosing MS plaques.
A definitive diagnosis of MS requires both clinical and paraclinical evidence:
Because there is no single diagnostic test specific for MS, and time between attacks can range from months to years, obtaining a diagnosis of MS can be a long and challenging process. In addition, symptoms differ among patients and are often subjective. Healthcare providers often minimized or dismissed patient concerns.
Some individuals may have minor symptoms and others may experience major, ongoing problems with symptom progression. MS symptoms may occur at the beginning of the disease process, resolve, and never recur, or they may reoccur often throughout the individuals lifetime. Symptom severity can vary as well in the same patient or within a group of patients.
Some patients express anger
or grief when informed of the diagnosis. Others may express relief that they
finally know the cause of their symptoms and can begin treatment. Healthcare
professionals can assist patients and families by educating them about the array
of potential symptoms and how MS may affect them. Patients also need current
information regarding MS management, research toward a cure, and new drug treatments
Diseases That Can Mimic MS Signs and Symptoms
|Infections||Lyme disease, syphilis, human immunodeficiency virus infection, human T-lymphotrophic virus type I|
|Inflammatory conditions||sarcoidosis, systemic lupus erythematosus|
|Microvascular disease||hypertension, diabetes mellitus, vasculitis, CADASIL|
|Genetic||leukodystrophy, hereditary myelopathy, mitochondrial disease|
|Compression of brain or spinal cord||cervical spondylosis, herniated disc, Chiari's malformation, tumor|
The National Multiple Sclerosis Society web site provides an excellent MS resource.