Diagnosing Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is not an easy disease to diagnose. The fact that some of the symptoms it may exhibit can also be similar to some other types of ailments.

There are some instances that a condition having MS-like symptoms can be nothing more than some other stress related disorders. There are certain conditions that might imitate common MS symptoms. This can make it difficult for doctors to make an accurate after only a single test.

Currently, there is no single test available that may help provide an accurate diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. In properly diagnosing if one suffers from multiple sclerosis, neurologists depend on studying a patient’s medical history along with a thorough neurological examination wherein the function of the brain and the spinal cord is tested using various methods.

There are a number of neurological tests that doctors use in order to diagnose the onset of multiple sclerosis. There is what is called the Romberg’s sign wherein doctors test for ataxia or the clumsiness of movement not attributed to muscular weakness. This is usually done by letting the patient stand with the eyes closed.

Ataxia can also be evaluated in the different parts of the body through observation of the patient walking normally. Tests such as walking heel to toe as well as with finger to nose may be done to observe involuntary shaking or clumsiness which may be a possible symptom of multiple sclerosis. There is also the heel/shin test for ataxia. This test is also used for detecting cerebellar dysfunction. This is done by lifting the ball of the heel and bringing it towards the knee of the other leg and moved down towards the shin.

Another test used by doctors to diagnose multiple sclerosis is the L’Hermitte’s sign. This is a test used to find lesions on the spinal cord in the neck area. The L’Hermitte’s sign actually describes the sensation of electrical buzzing in the limbs and body brought about by neck movements. The electrical buzzing sensations experienced are also called paraesthesia and may include tingling, partial numbness and sharp pains.

This can be triggered by lowering the head so the chin touches the chest area. The sensation may only last a couple of seconds but it may indicate that there may be lesions in the cervical spine. Neck movements may cause the damaged nerves to stretch and send out erroneous signals to the brain causing the electrical buzzing sensation.

The L’Hermitte’s sign can be linked to multiple sclerosis although it can also be associated with a number of other conditions such as arthritis, disc compression, or possible tumors. This test alone cannot solely tell if one has multiple sclerosis but should be used with a number of other tests in order to have a more accurate diagnosis.

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