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There are no specific diagnostic tests for the diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis. The general approach is to test for usual diseases that have similar symptoms and eliminate the likely conditions. A diagnosis is then arrived at by elimination of the common conditions that mimic MS. This method of diagnosis is often employed to diagnose difficult diseases and the technique is called differential diagnosis. It is very important to get a detailed clinical history. This helps the doctor to eliminate many diseases and concentrate on a few. A blood test is done to confirm the results help to avoid similar diseases. Specific markers of specific antibodies for MS in the blood is being developed. This help in diagnosis.
Another test is analyzing the spinal fluid for markers which are specific to different infections and illnesses producing similar symptoms like MS. The tests can also indicate abnormal antibodies associated with MS. The spinal fluid is tapped by inserting a needle into the spinal canal and drawing a small quantity of the fluid.
MRI is an advanced imaging technique using magnetic forces. MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging. Often a contrast material in injected intravenously which helps to identify the lesions in the brain and on the spinal cord.
Evoked potential test, which records the signal the nerves produces on the application of stimuli. The stimuli can be an electrical impulse applied to the legs and the speed with it is transmitted is recorded by electrodes. Alternately it may be a moving visual pattern that is used.
These advanced tests are used in cases with peculiar symptoms or progressive disease. The more common MS with relapsing-remitting symptoms is fairly straightforward.
Treatment for MS involves treating the symptoms, checking the progress of the condition and managing the symptoms. Rare people has only very mild symptoms and do not warrant any treatment.
Medicines are prescribed to reduce inflammation and some can have side effects like hypertension, sleeplessness, mood swings and fluid retention. Medicines should be taken only on prescription by a specialist. Plasma exchange or plasmapheresis is also employed in some cases, in which the patient’s blood cells are separated from the plasma, mixed with a protein solution (albumin) and transfused.