Multiple sclerosis is a very frustrating condition. With the current lack of diagnostic procedures, tests and examinations that can provide clear-cut evaluations, many physicians find it hard to establish the presence of multiple sclerosis. Because of this, patients suffer both from the symptoms of the conditions and the confusion these symptoms bring. Though patients feel that “something” is seriously wrong about them, that “something” is typically not hard to miss.
Symptoms of multiple sclerosis may be transient, mild or similar with other conditions. Attacks are intermittent and hard to understand. The nature of the disease itself is barely understood. All these add in to the extended suffering of patients.
The best option current medical science can provide when it comes to diagnosing this condition is by way of ruling out other diseases that possess symptoms similar with multiple sclerosis. While this is helpful, it provides somewhat inconclusive evidence. Doctors will try to evaluate the medical history of the patient, presence of co-morbid disorders and illnesses, and other factors. Only after other conditions were ruled out will the doctors present the possible presence of multiple sclerosis. After this, the neurologist will examine the patient based on the following:
Whether or not the patient had experienced two or more relapses at different points in time;
Whether or not the patient shows signs of demyelination in two or more areas of the central nervous system; or,
Whether or not the patient had experienced at least one relapse, have at least one indication of lesions of the myelin sheath on either the brain or the spinal cord, and laboratory tests provide results consistent with those commonly observed among patients of multiple sclerosis.
If indications are strong, diagnosis can be made. But even when the patient scored positive with the aforementioned criteria, it is still not evidence enough to fully ascertain the presence of the disease. For patients who experience symptoms that come and go, and those who have experienced only one relapse, further examinations will be recommended after a certain period of time, thus extending the uncertainty of diagnosis.
On top of these, it is not uncommon to utilize diagnostic tests and examinations to evaluate the symptoms. MRI or Magnetic Resonance Imaging, examination of brain fluids and evoked potentials are used to prove the presence of the disease. Though these are helpful, these can only create strong suggestions with respect to the onset of the condition. The extent of damage and the location of damage on the central nervous system cannot be assessed through these tests.
A specialist or a neurologist would only give diagnosis once definite signs of the disease are identified, otherwise, a series of tests may be undergone or recommendation to other doctors may be given. Or worse, the patient will be left to agonize on his condition without clearly knowing what he is suffering from. This creates serious problems for the patients.
For most, the inability of doctors to give clear evaluations of their conditions makes it doubly difficult and exasperating. Some patients go beyond the belief that they have gone crazy while others continually suffer with symptoms that increase in severity over time without medications or treatments.
While all these are true, the fact that some forms of diagnosis is present are somehow sufficient to extend help to the sufferers.