First of all, what is MS?
According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, MS, or Multiple Sclerosis, "is a chronic, often disabling disease that attacks the central nervous system (CNS), which is made up of the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves." But to those of who have a family member or are ourseleves affected by MS, it is simply a disease that can effect every part of your life. It has 4 main types of progression courses.
First, is the relapsing-remitting type. This is a person whose symptoms are sometimes more active or worse, and other times less troublesome. Second is the Primary-progressive. In this course of the disease, the individual experiences a gradual but progressive worsening of symptoms. Third is the Secondary-Progressive, which is an individual who, after a period of being characterized as Relapsing-Remitting, moves on to being in the Primary-Progressive category. And the final fourth category is Progressive-Relapsing. This is the least common course of the disease, and is when an individual experiences a progressive worsening of the disease as in the Primary-Progressive category, but also experience clear times of worsening of symptoms or "attacks." Credit: by user robef on Flickr
What are some of the early signs of MS?
Some of the most common early signs of MS include:
-Unusual Gait or Balance problems
-Numbness or Tingling
-Spasticity or Tremors
-Emotional Problems or Depression
Of course, as with any heath problems you experience, any or all of these symptoms could point to any number of problems or diseases, so be sure to talk to your physician if you experience any 1 or more of these issues.
How do they diagnose MS?
Diagnosing MS is still something that doctors and the health community at large struggle with. Although they have come a long way since yesteryear, there is still no one "magic bullet" for determining if one has Multiple Sclerosis. Physicians use a series of tests and exams to determine if you fit the diagnosis of MS.
According to the National MS Society,
"In order to make a diagnosis of MS, the physician must:
- Find evidence of damage in at least two separate areas of the central nervous system (CNS), which includes the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves AND
- Find evidence that the damage occurred at least one month apart AND
- Rule out all other possible diagnoses"
So you see, it is no easy business getting a diagnosis. Many patients suffer for years without getting the news that they have MS. Here are some of the tests that your doctor may do to determine if you have Multiple Sclerosis:
-MRI of the Brain and/or C-Spine
-Visual Evoked Potential
If you or a loved one suspects that you may be developing MS, please find a good physician that is willing to help you determine the best course of action. Finding the right doctor is absolutely critical, and finding one that is an excellent, inquisitivec clinician is your best bet.
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