My name is Melinda Johnson and I suffered with foot pain for many years. I went to see a podiatrist and after an examination, I was told that I had heel spur syndrome. I followed the recommendations of my doctor by doing at home treatments along with physical therapy. I was amazed at how much these treatments helped my foot pain. Living with pain can have a big impact on your life and that's why I started this blog. My foot pain kept me from doing many things that I enjoy and I want to help others who are going through the same situation. As you browse through my blog, you'll learn about home treatments, medical procedures and new advancements in medicine that can help reduce pain. It is my hope that by writing this blog, you can live pain free too.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune neurological condition that often causes severe, debilitating symptoms. The disease can become progressive, causing permanent disability. Diagnosing MS early can help you find the right treatment to potentially slow disease progression.
The range of symptoms seen in MS depends on which nerves are affected and where brain lesions occur. Much like other autoimmune diseases, generalized pain and fatigue is common. If lesions occur in areas of the brain responsible for memory and/or cognition, you may develop deficits in short- and long-term memory and problems speaking, reading, or understanding. When nerves responsible for gut motility are affected, constipation might be a symptom. Various forms of incontinence, whether bowel or urinary, are common among those with MS. Muscle weakness is another common symptom, which can cause people with MS to need assistance walking or require a wheelchair. If your doctor suspects MS, they will need to order further testing.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is used to help diagnose MS. Your neurologist will likely order the test to be done with and without contrast because they can see different issues. For example, old brain lesions will appear dark when the scan is done without contrast, but once the contrast medium is added, any active lesions will light up. Although the results of the MRI might cause your neurologist to suspect an MS diagnosis, they will need an additional MRI to solidify a diagnosis. It is necessary for your neurologist to identify multiple brain lesions that occur at different times before MS can be diagnosed.
A lumbar puncture, or spinal tap, is another test done if MS is still suspected after an MRI. The goal of the lumbar puncture is to look for specific proteins or inflammatory markers in the spinal fluid that are consistent with MS. A lumbar puncture is done in an outpatient setting under local anesthesia. It involves using a needle to puncture the space around the spinal cord and remove a small sample of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). High levels of white blood cells in the CSF is not conclusive for MS, but it is consistent with an overactive immune system. Elevated white blood cells may also be found in CSF if an infection is present. Oligoclonal bands are another marker found in the CSF of people with MS. These proteins are consistent with MS when found in the CSF. Similarly, a structural component of the nerves called neurofilaments will be found in the CSF if the nerves are being destroyed by MS.
MS is a complex condition to diagnose since it can mimic a number of other conditions. An MRI and lumbar puncture will be necessary to make a definitive diagnosis of MS.
Contact a neurology specialist to learn more.