Numbness. issues with vision. I was in constant pain and fatigue. imbalance loss The signs started early for actor Selma Blair. She spent years seeking answers and visiting numerous doctors.
Everything from hormones and starvation to sadness, worry, and weariness was blamed for her symptoms. Some claimed she was only imagining it. The “Cruel Intentions” and “Legally Blonde” actor was relieved to receive a multiple sclerosis diagnosis in 2018.
Blair describes the moment she learned she had MS as “an adrenaline surge of feeling” in her recently released memoir, “Mean Baby: A Memoir of Growing Up.”
“It was like childbirth. it was let loose. The healing power of it. But above all else, I was overcome with a sensation of relief.” It is obvious that receiving a multiple sclerosis diagnosis after so many years of uncertainty had a significant impact. What’s more, why did it take more than 20 years to happen?
What Is Multiple Sclerosis?
It is a neurological disorder called multiple sclerosis (MS). Healthy cells in your myelin, the covering that protects the nerves in your brain and spinal cord, are attacked by the body’s immune system.
The damage eventually forms lesions, which are also known as scars. The injury prevents the brain from sending nerve signals to the rest of the body. As a result of this disruption, the disease may eventually cause the breakdown of nerve fibers. Your body can’t move or work correctly as a result of this.
Everyone experiences MS differently. It is illogical. Numbness, tingling, mood swings, memory loss, soreness, exhaustion, blindness, or paralysis are just a few of the effects that might vary from person to person.
The Multiple Sclerosis Foundation estimates that about 1 million Americans have MS. Given how challenging it is to identify, estimates are, nevertheless, ambiguous.
Do You Have MS Symptoms?
Our neurology experts can assist you if you have multiple sclerosis-related concerns.
Set up a meeting with an MS specialist.
So Why Does It Take so Long to Diagnose Multiple Sclerosis?
Multiple Sclerosis cannot be diagnosed with a single test.
An X-ray or blood test cannot reveal that you have MS. MS is a complicated illness that manifests in a variety of ways and frequently resembles other diseases. Alternatively, conditions other than MS could manifest as symptoms of MS.
Other Conditions that Could Be Mistaken for MS:
- A Syndrome with Isolated Radioactivity (RIS)
- A Lack of Vitamin B12
- Syndrome Sjogren’s
There are several potential causes of your symptoms that your doctor must take into account. It may take years of trial and error to eliminate additional factors.
According to neurologist Brian Weinshenker, MD, one of UVA Health’s MS experts, “the majority of multiple sclerosis symptoms are nonspecific for the condition.”
People may experience numbness and weakness, for instance, and an examination may reveal aberrant reflexes. However, we observe those signs in a wide range of ailments.
The Need to Get It Right
We want to take care that the MS diagnosis we provide to patients is accurate, according to Weinshenker. “The sooner we diagnose patients and get them on treatment, the better.
But before we start patients on very costly therapy and diagnose them with multiple sclerosis, we want to be sure the diagnosis is accurate.”
A delayed start to treatment results from an inaccurate diagnosis. An opportunity to delay the disease and lessen lasting brain damage exists when MS is discovered early. However, 1 in 5 MS diagnoses in the US is later revealed to be inaccurate. How many are actually missed?
It can be challenging to strike a balance between a patient’s need to understand what is wrong with their body and receiving the proper diagnosis as soon as possible, according to Weinshenker.
There has been a significant effort to make MS diagnosis simpler, according to Weinshenker. “As a result, there is a conflict between our desire to diagnose patients as quickly as possible so that they have a diagnosis for their symptoms and our want to start them on a successful MS treatment.
However, you don’t want to diagnose patients prematurely and incorrectly because you might have to change your mind later.
How Is MS Diagnosed?
Typically, Neurologists Begin by Doing:
Your Comprehensive Physical Examination
Gathering Comprehensive Medical History
The Functioning of Your Spinal Cord and Brain Are Examined
Examining Spinal Taps for Immune Cell Abnormality Colonies
Taking Blood Samples to Check for Certain Antibodies
White dots, for instance, may be seen during an MRI. These denote inflammation in the spinal cord or brain, which is one indication of MS.
However, just this test isn’t sufficient. According to Weinshenker, patients with diabetes or those who are older may exhibit comparable white patches on a brain MRI.
A diagnosis of multiple sclerosis requires:
A neurological examination to determine whether your symptoms, such as balance issues, muscle weakness, or slow reflexes, are neurological in nature.
There is proof of nerve injury in at least two different central nervous system regions (the brain, spinal cord, or optic nerves).
Evidence of the damage several times of occurrence.
excluding other ailments that could be causing your symptoms.
After a Multiple Sclerosis Diagnosis, Progressing
After years of wondering why their bodies were failing them, many people, like Blair, are glad to receive an MS diagnosis.
“It appeared as if ‘it hit so hard, so fast when I revealed my diagnosis to the outside world.” In her memoir, Blair writes. “However, they failed to notice the persistent weariness, the years of inflammation, or the indicators that were there from the beginning.
I had acquired knowledge over a lifetime. I was given a name for it, and that was the only thing that changed.