Several million people across the globe are living with the condition known as MS or multiple sclerosis. The majority of them were diagnosed with this condition between 20-40 years of age.
Due to the complexity of the condition, diagnosing MS requires a multi-stage testing process. Once a positive diagnosis has been obtained, patients have several treatment options available to them, which we’ll outline below.
The Diagnosis Process
To diagnose multiple sclerosis, doctors rely on a variety of tests that are designed to rule out other medical conditions. This is necessary because there are no specific diagnostic procedures for detecting MS. The diagnosis process may include:
Blood Tests: During initial testing, blood samples are used to rule out common conditions that present similar symptoms to MS. These blood tests also check for unique biomarkers that are associated with MS.
Spinal Tap: Depending on the results of the blood tests, the physician may schedule a spinal tap next. This test involves puncturing the lumbar spine in order to remove a small amount of cerebrospinal fluid. The fluid is then subjected to laboratory analysis and checked for abnormal antibodies linked to MS.
MRI: An MRI or magnetic resonance imaging test is used to identify lesions on the spinal cord and brain. These lesions are a common sign of MS. Oftentimes, patients receive an IV injection of a “contrast material.” This substance helps to highlight legions during the MRI scan.
Evoked Potential Tests: An evoked potential test documents electrical signals that are created by your nervous system. It can use electrical stimuli or verbal stimuli in order to prompt your nervous system to create impulses. The goal of this test is to determine how fast information is traveling down nerve pathways.
MS Treatment Options
While MS has no cure, there are several viable treatment options available. These treatments can enhance the quality of life of MS sufferers and mitigate their symptoms. MS treatments include:
Corticosteroids: Corticosteroids are used to reduce nerve inflammation. They can be administered orally or through an IV. However, corticosteroids do present a risk for several side effects, such as insomnia and increased blood sugar.
Plasma Exchange: Plasma is the liquid component of blood. During this treatment, the plasma is removed and separated from the patient’s blood cells. The cells are combined with albumin (protein solution) and put back into the patient’s body.
Stem Cell Therapy: Stem cell therapy is an alternative treatment option for patients with MS. It is being used to potentially help patients suffering from symptoms of neurodegenerative conditions. Stem cells stimulate the body’s natural healing capabilities and have the potential to help manage MS symptoms. If you or a loved one suffers from MS, stem cell therapy may be an option to explore as an alternative treatment.