MS 101: The Multiple Sclerosis Diagnosis Process

  • by Teva's Lift MS Team
  •   July 17, 2017

We understand that many of you are new to relapsing multiple sclerosis and may have questions. Others are patients or Care Partners who are diligently researching as much as you can. We want to provide you more information, and in this post, we hope to help you better understand some of the factors that health care providers use when diagnosing multiple sclerosis.

According to the National MS Society (NMSS), there are a few criteria that your health care provider will look for when making a diagnosis. Here are three things that your doctor should confirm before making a diagnosis:

  • Evidence of damage in at least two separate areas of the central nervous system (CNS)
  • Evidence that the damage to the area(s) occurred at least one month apart
  • Ruled out all other possible diagnoses

Now, we’ll get into the factors and tests that could be used to determine whether or not a person has MS.

To start, we want to let you know that there is no single test to diagnose multiple sclerosis. Instead, your health care provider or neurologist will take a number of factors into consideration. Be sure to let your health care provider know about your medical history, as this will help in the diagnosis process. You might also consider using Teva’s Shared Solutions® Doctor Discussion Guide to help guide the conversation at your next appointment.

Here are a few of the factors and tests that your health care provider might consider:

  • Changes in your strength and reflexes
  • Your responses to touch, sound and other senses
  • The number of relapses, also called flare-ups or attacks, you have over a period of time
  • The number and types of lesions that can be seen on an MRI. The NMSS has an entire section that will help you learn how MRIs can help with the diagnosis process
  • Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) analysis, which is gathered via a lumbar puncture or “spinal tap.” The NMSS has detailed information on this process as well if you want to learn more
  • “Evoked potentials” test, which can help detect the slowing of electrical activity in the brain due to demyelination. Demyelination is when the myelin sheath around neurons in the brain or spinal cord is damaged, which may slow or even stop nerve impulses. You can learn more about this on the NMSS website

We hope this helps you understand the diagnosis process. As always, your health care provider is the best person to answer any specific questions that you have about your health. If you want to learn more, the education section of this blog is filled with other informative articles told from the perspective of people living with MS, care partners, nurses and the Teva’s Lift MS Team. You can also register to have updates and information from us sent right to your inbox!

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4 Comment(s)
  • Hayley Martin | July 25, 2017
    GOOD LUCK EVERYONE, AND TAKE CARE OF EACH OTHER. MY THOUGHTS ARE WITH YOU ALL... GOD BLESS X
    • Teva's Lift MS Team | July 25, 2017
      We love seeing how supportive you are, Hayley.
  • Cynthia | July 28, 2017
    I posted on my page, inviting friends to get questions answered, be aware & understand.
    Perhaps now when my husband & I r invited somewhere & have to get a raincheck they will know & understand that
    I can only walk so much,
    Etc. Instead of thinking
    'I'm always sick & never
    dead"
  • Judy M Church  | August 12, 2017
    To whom it may concern,
    I would like to be connected with a support Group in my area. In 2007 my husband was diagnoses with Multiple sclerosis. This has been a very difficult time for my family. I have know one to talk to about the changes in our lifes. I will really appreciate you directing me where I can locate a support Group. The last couple of years has been a hard ship for my family.
  • Fannie Brown  | August 20, 2017
    I have MS