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Diagnosing MS

Multiple Sclerosis is a complex condition and encompasses a range of varied symptoms.

The early onset of MS especially may present itself through vague symptoms, which may occur sporadically over a prolonged period of time yet could often also be evidence of a number of other medical conditions.

Please consult a qualified medical professional if you are experiencing one or more of the following symptoms:

Vertigo and Dizziness
Bladder and Bowel Issues
Sexual Dysfunction
Visual Problems
Movement and Coordination Issues
Clinical Depression
Cognition Impairement
Emotional Changes

Testing for MS

Invisible or subjective symptoms are often difficult to communicate to doctors and health professionals and it is not uncommon for a diagnosis to take several months, and frustratingly, it may take even longer.

There are a range of tests that are required to diagnose MS. No single test is conclusive on its own. The tests include:


Neurological Exam

By asking questions about past symptoms and problems, a neurologist can get a better picture of a patient's current symptoms and any associated physical issues.

This ‘history taking’ session is usually accompanied by a physical examination. If there are changes or weaknesses in eye movements, leg or hand coordination, balance, sensation, speech or reflexes, a neurologist may strongly suspect MS at this stage, however, a diagnosis won’t be given until other test results confirm MS.


Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Using a strong magnetic field to create a detailed image of the brain and spinal cord, an MRI shows the exact location and size of any damage or scarring (lesions).

Recently, more powerful MRI techniques have been used to study inflammation and tissue damage in regions of the brain, and are being developed for use in the diagnosis of MS.


Evoked Potentials

This painless procedure involves measuring the time it takes for the brain to receive messages from the eyes, using small electrodes attached to the patient’s head to monitor brain waves as visual stimuli are presented on a screen.

If MS or a similar condition is active, messages to and from the brain will be detected travelling more slowly than usual.


Lumbar Puncture

By inserting a needle into the space around the spinal cord, under local anaesthetic, a neurologist will draw a small sample of ‘cerebrospinal fluid’ - the liquid that flows around the brain and spinal cord. Once drawn, the fluid will be tested in a laboratory for abnormalities that occur in MS and, in some cases, the fluid pressure will also be measured.

Scientists are also identifying biological indicators, or ‘biomarkers’, in the blood or cerebrospinal fluid which can be used in the diagnosis or monitoring of the condition.

Related Diseases

MS symptoms may be similar to other neurological diseases. Learn more about related diseases from our partners.


There is no typical MS.

The symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis can vary depending on which areas of the brain and central nervous system have been affected. There are no set patterns, each patient may experience different symptoms. The symptoms vary over time and severity.

People often display more than one symptom, and although some symptoms are common to many people, a person would not display all of them.

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Treatments & Therapies

Treatments & Therapies