Doctors first take into consideration how to diagnose MS through a series of symptoms a patient provides. There are more than 50 symptoms associated with Multiple Sclerosis, but a large number of them are also very similar to those seen in other diseases as well. Due to the similarities, it takes time for a doctor to rule out a number of other illnesses to make sure the symptoms being noted are in fact connected to MS. Some symptoms require the attention of a neurologist, so a doctor may refer a patient to a neurologist before making any diagnoses.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a quick blood test available to diagnose MS right way. The number of tests used for patients suspected of having Multiple Sclerosis is tedious and normally not completed in a single day. Once a doctor makes note of all symptoms described by the patient, this list is checked against the lengthy one connected to the description of those experienced by patients who have been diagnosed with MS over the years. Thanks to much research, this information is plentiful. If the symptoms all point to an affirmative case of MS, then further tests are run to positively identify MS.

Have a symptoms log is helpful to the doctor doing the diagnosing. This will tell the doctor not only what symptoms are present, but how long they last, when they first occurred, and if they are reoccurring or not.


The Tests to Diagnose MS


If the symptoms are all suggesting that Multiple Sclerosis is possible, then how do you diagnose MS for sure? A doctor will perform a few additional tests and obtain any additional medical history needed, such as medications being taken, a list of past injuries or trauma to any part of the body, or information on family members who have also been diagnosed with MS. Even though Multiple Sclerosis has yet to be proven to be a genetic disease, doctors still tend to ask this question.

Blood tests are performed to rule out any viruses that show up in the blood, such as Lyme disease or HIV. Samples of cerebrospinal fluid are taken from the lumbar section of the spine to check for an elevated level of antibodies, which indicates a very active immune system. Since MS is an autoimmune disease, the levels of antibodies present in a sample taken for a spinal tap would be rather high.

MRI scans are used to confirm the presence of lesions on the brain, spinal cord, and/or optic nerves, which are caused by MS. An MRI scan can show new and active lesions as well as older dormant ones. Gadolinium is a colorless dye injected into the person receiving the MRI to help active lesions show up better. Doctors know how to diagnose MS through combining the results of each of these tests.