MS or multiple sclerosis is a condition of the brain and the central nervous system, which is quite disabling. Your own immune system attacks your myelin, which is a protective cover over the nerves, in this disease.

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Can MS Go Undetected For Years?

In many cases MS can go undetected for years, even if a person exhibits some mild symptoms. Benign MS is a type of MS in which the affected person may have MS for a number of years without actually developing any kind of disability.

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All the forms of MS are unpredictable. Doctors cannot predict how the course of the disease will run or what form will MS take after a few years. The symptoms of the affected people also differ, so does the severity of their symptoms. Some people start with very minor symptoms, which may even take years and years to progress. On the other hand, some may experience symptoms that are far worse and severe in nature. A large number of people experience symptoms that are something between minor and major.

Those having benign MS are considered to have a very mild form of the disease. They may present with symptoms, but their disabilities may not grow. However, their symptoms can still worsen over time.

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Diagnosis Of MS

  • There are no specific tests designed to detect MS
  • The diagnosis of MS usually depends on ruling out other conditions or diseases that may produce similar symptoms. This is called a differential diagnosis.
  • Your doctor will ask you for your thorough medical history, and will carry out an extensive and thorough physical examination

After the physical examination is done, your doctor may ask you to undertake some tests, which may include but are not limiting to-

Blood Tests-

  • These blood tests will help in ruling out other conditions and diseases that are like MS
  • Specific blood tests for diagnosing MS are not yet available, but constant research is going on to obtain a breakthrough

Lumbar Puncture-

  • Also known as a spinal tap, this test includes removal of a small amount of fluid from the spinal cord
  • This fluid is then sent for evaluation in a laboratory
  • This fluid sample may show an abnormality or irregularity in the antibodies related to MS
  • This procedure can also help in ruling out other conditions and infections that may show signs and symptoms like MS

MRI-

  • MRI or magnetic resonance imaging is a test which can detect the areas affected by MS in your brain and spinal column
  • An intravenous injection of a contrast material can be injected which will highlight the areas affected by MS
  • This may also show whether the disease is in an active phase or not

Other Tests-

  • There are some other tests which detect the electrical signals produced by the nervous system when it meets a stimulus
  • This test is known as evoked potential test
  • This test involves the use of a visual or electrical stimulus
  • The test will then measure how rapidly or slowly the information is moved through the nerve path

Most of the people suffering from relapsing-remitting MS show a pattern of symptoms that matches the disease and the diagnosis is done straightforward. The diagnosis is then confirmed with the help of brain imaging tests.

Those people who show very unusual or unspecific symptoms, or those with a progressive disease, diagnosing MS in them can be quite difficult. Such cases call for further confirmatory diagnosis with the help of spinal fluid evaluation and evoked potential tests.

MS can go undetected for years, especially in people who show very mild symptoms and that too, quite infrequently. The signs and symptoms can also be similar to many other conditions, which make it even more difficult to diagnose MS, as symptoms can be misleading to some other condition. It is essential to get yourself evaluated at the slightest unusual signs.

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Sheetal DeCaria MD

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

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Last Modified On: April 3, 2019

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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