There are only a few reasons you are looking at this article... Most likely you or someone you love is experiencing some odd symptoms whether they are settle or severe, whether they have been persisting for years or weeks. What could it be? You want to know so bad... You need to know. After doing some research you were led to think that maybe what you have is Multiple Sclerosis or MS as it's called for short. So what is the next step? I'll explain what you need to do but more importantly is why you need to do this.
Most people experience a long diagnosis process when it comes to Multiple Sclerosis. This can be because they are avoiding the tests do to their fear of the answer they may receive or because of a doctor who is simply dragging their feat... Either way I can tell you this, you want an answer as soon as possible because the answer is not going to effect your symptoms, only the treatment you can receive will be effected. If you are afraid of the answer think of it like this, the sooner you get an answer, the sooner you can identify the source of your problem and pursue a treatment. If you put it off you symptoms may do permanent damage or cause you more pain for a longer period of time at the least. Maybe you don't even have MS, maybe once you get your answer it will lead to ending your symptoms all together!
Is your doctor dragging his or her feet? Well then demand that you get these test done, it's your health and you have a right to get tested if for nothing else but the process of elimination in your diagnostic journey. It doesn't matter what the doctor thinks because a test is like an answer key, it will give you the confirmation you need, all a doctor can provide you without a test is an opinion. I know this is hard to believe but doctors are people and make mistakes just the same as anyone else and sometimes they can get a little stubborn with their answer especially when you start demanding to be tested for something they don't think you have. When this happens just stick to your guns and demand that test!
Anyways there are two tests you need to get done to confirm a Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis. An MRI and a Spinal Tap (Lumbar Puncture). Don't let this scare you! It's nothing, really, you'll be just fine! When your done you get to say you were inside an awesome machine, talk crap about how most TV shows about health have it all wrong, and then brag about how you had a spinal tap! It's fun!
This is what you need to do first, get an MRI of your brain. An MRI can get you an official diagnosis if it looks convincing enough but some doctors may give you a "Probable Multiple Sclerosis" diagnosis. This only means your doctor is being thorough and probably wants you to get a Spinal Tap to confirm. If not push it because even though your MRI may look like MS it could end up being something different that your doctor mistook for MS, it happens! Your MRI might also not show much at all! If this is the case then you want a spinal MRI next, spinal lesions are not as typical (I am avoiding the word common) but lots of people have them so you should push for that if your MRI of your brain looks somewhat normal despite the fact that your doctor is convinced you have MS.
Spinal Tap (Lumbar Puncture)
This is what most people fear. With an MRI you may have some claustrophobia issues to deal with at the worst which they can give you medication to relax for. With a Spinal Tap (Lumbar Puncture or LP for short) you have a large needle involved which they poke into your back to retrieve spinal fluid from your spinal column. This freaks people out and there are rumors that it is the most painful procedure in the entire universe!!!! It's not... It's really no big deal at all. It just takes a few minutes and the local anesthetics are the only pokes you really feel. After that you lean over and they poke you, drain some fluid out for a few seconds and... And that's it. Easy.
Now here is some important information to keep in mind regarding your spinal tap. A positive for MS is a positive, this means you have Multiple Sclerosis for sure. A negative on the other hand is inconclusive. You could have MS but at the time of the test there was no Myelin protein floating around in your spinal fluid to get you a positive. So "they" say to do your spinal tap when you are experiencing a lot of symptoms because you have more of a chance of finding the Myelin protein in your fluids that broke away from your nerves causing your symptoms in the first place. Some people have to have several spinal taps over a period of time before they get a positive test result but in my case I got it on the first try, yay...
Secondly, some people experiencing a headache after the procedure because when you remove spinal fluid you reduce the pressure in your skull around your brain. The fluids replenish pretty quickly in most cases so your headache should go away just fine on it's own if you get it at all. If it last for a few days with a good kick to it then you might want to go back in for what's called a "blood patch" when they inject some of your blood into your spine to balance the pressure back out. You can do this or just ride it out like me!
Anyways, I just want to say this, do not be afraid of a diagnosis. You are battling something that is causing you symptoms right now, isn't it better to know what it is that you are battling? You have to fight this enemy either way so you might as well get a good look at his face and have a better idea of what weapon is best to beat him! Don't put it off any longer, go get these test done! At the least you are just crossing one more thing off the list!