Doctors working at an MS clinic are able to diagnose different types of MS at any stage. However, even with the assortment of tests and careful observation of symptoms, diagnosing MS can still be quite difficult. For example, there are over 50 symptoms that have been connected to MS. Depending on the form of Multiple Sclerosis in a patient, these symptoms can last for days, weeks, or years at a time. Some of the tests used to check for MS are blood tests, a spinal tap, an MRI, and neurological tests. Once doctors diagnose MS, they must then decide which of the 4 types of MS is present.

These 4 forms of MS are differentiated by the absence or presence of remission and relapse cycles, as well as by how progressive the disease has become. Relapsing-Remitting MS subtype presents with steady cycles of relapse and remission. The individual patient usually recovers from the relapses during each remission, meaning that their symptoms go away until the next relapse occurs. This form of MS can exist for up to 40 years before it evolves into one of the other stages of MS. In fact, on average, 85 percent of the individuals diagnosed with MS have RRMS.

Primary-Progressive MS only presents itself in about 10 percent of MS patients. In this form of MS, only temporary improvements are seen, if any at all. People with this form of the disease get progressively worse over the years. Secondary-Progressive MS is usually what RRMS evolves into and this change can take as little as 5 years or as many as 40.

Progressive-Relapsing MS is very rare; in fact, it only affects 5 percent of the MS population. This extremely progressive type of MS causes severe disability over a relatively short period of time and remissions don’t occur at all.


Tests for Diagnosis MS


MS is fairly difficult to diagnose. There is no single test or testing method for diagnosing this incurable disease. Instead, there are a number of techniques in which the process of elimination is put into effect to rule out other diseases. For example, a blood test is used to rule out viruses, inflammatory diseases, and other infectious illnesses that can present signs and symptoms very similar to MS.

Another test referred to as a lumbar puncture or spinal tap can also be used to eliminate viral infections that cause white blood cells to increase in numbers, which occurs in MS as well. Neurological symptoms arise in patients who have an increased number of white blood cells, which can indeed indicate Multiple Sclerosis.

MRIs are frequently considered the most effective technique used to diagnose MS. This magnetic resonance imaging scan uses an injection of a colorless dye called gadolinium, in order to detect lesions on the brain and spinal cord. The dye is used because it causes the active lesions on the nerves to show up as brighter areas on the MRI scan. This procedure, performed at an MS clinic, can show older lesions without the dye, but these lesions could be caused by Lyme disease or lupus, as opposed to MS.


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