Multiple sclerosis is an inflammatory neurological disease which generates a wide symptomatic spectrum. Multiple sclerosis primarily affects the central nervous system, interfering with the normal activity of the nervous cells. Multiple sclerosis involves deterioration of the neurons’ myelin, a very important substance that facilitates the transmission of nervous signals between nervous cells. If myelin is affected, the connections between neurons are compromised and the body fails to respond promptly to external stimuli.
Multiple sclerosis can cause various dysfunctions in different regions of the body, causing a wide range of physical, neurological and psychological manifestations. The deterioration of myelin can affect the body’s motor functions, causing difficulty walking, loss of dexterity, poorly coordinated moves, loss of balance; sensorial functions, causing decreased visual acuity, altered perceptions of external stimuli; and cognitive functions, causing poor mental performance, loss of concentration and even memory loss. In some cases, multiple sclerosis can even interfere with the normal activity of the internal organs, causing renal affections and disorders of the gastrointestinal tract.
Due to the complex nature of multiple sclerosis symptoms, it is virtually impossible to diagnose the disease relying solely on patients’ external manifestations. The symptoms generated by neurological diseases have an unspecific character, thus making the process of multiple sclerosis diagnosis even more difficult. Hence, multiple sclerosis can be correctly diagnosed only after performing elaborate physical examinations and various laboratory tests.
Multiple sclerosis diagnosis involves the accumulation of various suggestive data through the means of specific medical procedures and laboratory analyses. The first step in the process of multiple sclerosis diagnosis usually involves the examination of patients’ motor functions. People with this type of neurological disease generally have trouble walking and maintaining their balance. Loss of dexterity, muscle weakness and poorly coordinated moves are also suggestive signs for multiple sclerosis diagnosis. Furthermore, sensorial dysfunctions, such as decreased vision, are very common to people with neurological diseases and an important multiple sclerosis diagnosis criterion involves looking for signs of internuclear ophthalmoplegia (double, blurred vision).
The process of multiple sclerosis diagnosis often involves MRI scans and lumbar puncture. MRI scans (magnetic resonance imaging) are an important step in confirming the multiple sclerosis diagnosis. MRI scans verify the integrity of the nervous system, using magnetic waves for generating pictures. If MRI scans can sometimes be inconclusive in the process of multiple sclerosis diagnosis, lumbar puncture is a reliable criterion in verifying the presence of neurological disease. Through the means of lumbar puncture, doctors are able to inspect the state of the spinal cord’s fluid, checking for evidence of inflammation at the level of the nervous system.
Neuropsychological tests are also very important in the process of multiple sclerosis diagnosis. The aim of these tests is to find evidence of compromised mental performance due to destruction of myelin. Most patients with neurological diseases often suffer from poor concentration, decreased judgment and even short-term memory loss and the main purpose of neuropsychological tests is to reveal the presence of these symptoms. Another important step in establishing the multiple sclerosis diagnosis involves looking for signs of depression, as more than 80 percent of people affected by this type of neurological disease eventually become depressed.
Multiple sclerosis diagnosis is very complex and requires various medical procedures and tests for revealing conclusive signs of the disease. Most patients are diagnosed with multiple sclerosis only if more than two specific tests confirm the presence of neurological dysfunctions.
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