Diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease for which there is no known cure. Its main characteristic is that it causes weakness in various parts of the body. It also affects vision and generates fatigue and lack of balance. There is no specific protocol for the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, this is a conclusion that the doctor or specialist will come to, based on many factors.

The diagnosis of multiple sclerosis (MS) is a long process in which other similar diseases are discarded and then specific clinical tests are made. This diagnosis is complex, given that the symptoms of this disease are suggestive. Likewise, it is a pathology in which the manifestations can vary significantly from one patient to another. For this reason, the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis does not depend only on one test as with other diseases. Usually, a discarding process is carried out before arriving at a definitive diagnosis and commonly requires the concurrence of several medical disciplines simultaneously.

The first element to take into account for the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis is the presence of generic symptoms. These are: double or blurred vision, motor coordination difficulties, loss of balance, cognitive issues, tingling or numbness and weakness of the leg or arm. The symptoms mentioned occur in almost half of patients with multiple sclerosis. However, the other half experience very mild manifestations or none at all. Likewise, it is possible that the following symptoms may appear

  • Burning sensation in the body

  • Constipation

  • Urinary urgency, frequent urination and / or difficulties to empty the bladder completely

  • Vertigo

  • Sexual dysfunction

  • Difficulties when speaking and nasal pronunciation

  • Tremors

The diagnosis of multiple sclerosis is based mainly on a detailed study of the clinical history and a neurological examination to detect any anomalies of the nervous system. It is also relatively common for other specialized tests to be ordered, although this is not always necessary. The tests that are usually prescribed by the doctor include:

  • Blood test: It helps detect other diseases similar to multiple sclerosis.

  • Lumbar puncture: It consists in the extraction of a sample of cerebrospinal fluid to analyze it, while searching for the presence of some antibodies that are typical of the disease. It also helps discard other pathologies.

  • Magnetic resonance: This test reveals lesions in the brain and spinal cord which are areas of multiple sclerosis affectation. If they are present, it is said that the disease is in an active stage.

  • Proof of evoked potentials: This test records the electrical signals produced by the nervous system against certain stimuli. These can be visual or motor and they measure the speed with which information is transmitted by the nervous system.

In most cases, all of the above elements allow the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis with a certain degree of reliability. However, there are also cases in which a definitive conclusion is not reached. If this happens, what is done is to periodically control the patient and repeat the tests after a certain amount of time.

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