Since being diagnosed with MS, I have heard a lot of stories from people who went through hell trying to figure out what was wrong with them. I find it astonishing that so many doctors in our country misdiagnose MS. It is very important that you see a neurologist to be accurately diagnosed.
The first step to diagnosing MS is an examination, along with a detailed medical history tracing the symptoms that precipitated the visit. It is during this time that other diseases can be ruled out. If your doctor feels it is necessary, he or she may then order a spinal tap, which detects abnormalities in the spinal fluid, or evoked response tests, which measure the length of time it takes for outside stimuli to reach the brain. One of the most conclusive tests used today is magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, which can show telltale spots (MS lesions) on the brain and spinal cord.
When meeting with your neurologist, it is very important to let him or her know all of the symptoms you are experiencing so that he or she can make an accurate diagnosis or order the tests needed to find out what is going on. Some of the symptoms a person with MS can have are: anxiety, temporary blindness, choking, depression, fatigue, heat sensitivity, hypersensitivity, incontinence, mental flutters, motor problems, muscle spasms, numbness, pain, shaking, swelling, and tingling . . . to name a few.
Although there is still no cure for MS, effective strategies are available to modify the course of the disease, treat exacerbations (also called attacks, relapses, or flare-ups), manage symptoms, improve function and safety, and provide emotional support. In combination, these treatments can enhance the quality of life for people living with MS.
Blackstone, Margaret. The First Year – Multiple Sclerosis: An Essential Guide for the Newly Diagnosed. New York: Marlowe & Company, 2003.
Nichols, Judith Lynn. Women Living with Multiple Sclerosis. California: Hunter House, Inc. Publishers, 1999.
The National Multiple Sclerosis Society: Lone Star. Texas.