Dr. Hendin shares the most common multiple sclerosis (MS) symptoms and explains how this condition is diagnosed.
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How Multiple Sclerosis Is Diagnosed Dr. Barry J. Hendin: The way we diagnose multiple sclerosis is by taking a good history in a population that we think is a susceptible population. So, for example, if a 25-year old woman presented to her neurologist with one of this typical symptoms which I discussed earlier such as loss of vision of one eye or double vision or incoordination or numbness and weakness below a certain level involving the legs and arms, the neurologist would say this is a possible first episode of MS, a first episode of multiple sclerosis. To the extent that further history taking suggests that this wasn’t the first attack but rather that attacks had occurred earlier would fulfill the criteria of multiple sclerosis more than one attack in more than one part of the nervous system. We tried to make the diagnosis earlier and earlier today so that we can treat earlier. We think that earlier treatment makes it more likely that we will prevent disability down the line. So, neurologists are keeping a much lower threshold for making that diagnosis. After taking history, we do an examination. Examination looks to those areas that were problematic and then classically, there are some laboratory tests almost always that includes an MRI scan, sometimes that includes the spinal fluid evaluation and sometimes, some other test as well. The classic symptoms of MS tend to be loss of vision, painful loss of vision in one eye called optic-neuritis. Things that refer to the brain stem, cerebellum, the back of the brain. Double vision, incoordination, numbness on one side of the body, weakness on one side of the body or alternatively, problems that relate to a spinal chord attack or episode, numbness or weakness of the arms and legs, trouble walking.