Multiple sclerosis – Things you need to know
There are no specific diagnostic tests for the diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis. The general approach is to test for usual diseases that have similar symptoms and eliminate the likely conditions. A diagnosis is then arrived at by elimination of the common conditions that mimic MS. This method of diagnosis is often employed to diagnose difficult diseases and the technique is called differential diagnosis. It is very important to get a detailed clinical history. This help the doctor to eliminate many diseases and concentrate on a few. Blood test are done to confirm the results help to avoid similar diseases. Specific markers of specific antibodies for MS in the blood is being developed. This help in diagnosis.
Another test is analyzing the spinal fluid for markers which are specific to different infections and illnesses producing similar symptoms like MS. The tests can also indicate abnormal antibodies associated with MS. The spinal fluid is tapped by inserting a needle into the spinal canal and drawing a small quantity of the fluid.
MRI is an advanced imaging technique using magnetic forces. MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging. Often a contrast material in injected intravenously which helps to identify the lesions in the brain and on the spinal cord.
Evoked potential test, which records the signal the nerves produces on application of a stimuli. The stimuli can be an electrical impulse applied to the legs and the speed with it is transmitted is recorded by electrodes. Alternately it may be a moving visual pattern that is used.
These advanced tests are used in cases with peculiar symptoms or progressive disease. The more common MS with relapsing-remitting symptoms is fairly straightforward.
While a treatment for MS is still in the works, the options available now are geared towards speedy recovery from the symptoms, to check the progress of the condition and managing the symptoms.
Corticosteroids are prescribed to reduce inflammation but they do come with their share of side effects. Always consult with a medical doctor and specialist to help you choose a course of action.