Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease that causes the immune system to attack myelin, which is the protective fatty sheath surrounding the nerves in the brain and spinal cord. Areas of damaged myelin are called sclerosis, and the lack of myelin in these areas can lead to the interruption of signals to the brain – which can cause symptoms of MS.
MS is usually diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 40. The good news is that most people who have MS have exacerbations which are usually temporary.
The other good news is that there are myriad treatment options available today. Let’s talk about how multiple sclerosis is diagnosed, some of the most common signs of the disease, and where you can go in the Detroit Metro area for outstanding neurology care.
Most Common Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms
MS symptoms range from mild to severe. The earliest symptoms MS patients reportedly experience are:
- Vision problems, such as blurry vision, poor contrast or color vision, and partial blindness
- Severe fatigue
- Changes in gait, or limping
- Loss of balance and coordination
- Vertigo and dizziness
- Spasticity or muscle stiffness
- Weakness or numbness
- Swallowing issues (dysphasia)
If the disease advances, some of the symptoms patients may experience are:
- Cognitive changes, such as difficulty processing new information
- Difficulty walking
- Loss of bladder and/or bowel control
- Sexual dysfunction
- Anxiety, mood swings, irritability, and depression
How Is MS Diagnosed?
Multiple sclerosis is diagnosed using a series of tests. There are other neurological conditions that can cause the same symptoms as MS, so an accurate diagnosis is important in order to know what treatments might work best for you.
Some of the tests used to diagnose MS are:
- Clinical check – Your neurologist will have you perform seemingly silly tests with your fingers, eyes, feet, and voice, so they can evaluate your movements and reaction time.
- MRI – Magnetic resonance imaging produces highly detailed images of the brain or spinal cord, which allows doctors to see sclerosis lesions in the myelin sheath.
- Spinal tap – The brain and spinal cord are bathed in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), which acts as a protective cushion. A spinal tap takes a sample of this fluid for analysis and checks for abnormal results in proteins and inflammatory cells. To take a sample, a thin needle is injected into the lower back to collect the CSF sample. A spinal tap may be ordered to confirm MS after an MRI shows abnormal lesions in the brain and/or spinal cord.
- Evoked potentials test – This test measures how quickly the nerve signals reach the brain. Since MS causes an interruption of signals sent to the brain, vision and auditory stimulation may produce an abnormally slow response time.
Multiple Sclerosis Diagnosis and Treatment in Southeast Michigan
Patients with multiple sclerosis need the support of an expert neurologist, and targeted treatment to tamp down the condition. Our board-certified neurologists at Associates in Neurology use various treatments and therapies to help slow down or stop the progression of MS and improve your quality of life. We can diagnose MS using different tests, and we have an MRI on-site for your convenience.
To schedule an appointment with one of our neurologists, call us today at (248) 478-5512 or use our convenient online request form. Associates in Neurology has locations throughout the greater Detroit region, including Farmington Hills, Novi, Southfield, Howell, and Brighton, and we look forward to seeing you at our location near you.