Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a nervous system disease that can cause a number of different symptoms. The symptoms you have depend on which nerves are affected. This might make diagnosis and treatment difficult, so if your doctor suspects you have multiple sclerosis, you might be referred to a nervous system specialist or neurologist. Here's a look at how multiple sclerosis is diagnosed and some treatments your neurologist might try. 

How Your Neurologist Diagnoses Multiple Sclerosis

A thorough history of your symptoms and attacks is important because it can show a pattern that is often typical of multiple sclerosis. Rather than being a gradually declining condition, your symptoms may flare up and then go away. This disease can behave differently in different people. For some, the condition can be severe and progressive, while others may have mild symptoms that come and go. This might make diagnosis challenging, but with the right diagnostic tests, your neurologist can tell if you have multiple sclerosis.

Your doctor will order a variety of medical tests, such as blood work, analysis of your cerebral spinal fluid, and an MRI. These tests serve the dual purpose of ruling out other medical conditions, such as a brain tumor and they help the doctor identify multiple sclerosis.

The Treatments That Might Help

Multiple sclerosis symptoms can be managed and the course of the condition can be slowed or modified, but there isn't a complete cure at present. A variety of medications can be tried. Some are taken by injection and others are oral drugs. Some slow down the progression of MS, some help you recover from a flare-up, and others treat symptoms caused by the damaged nerve. Some drugs target your immune system and drugs like corticosteroids might be given to help reduce swelling of the nerve.

Physical therapy is also an important part of treating MS. Exercise helps maintain your muscle strength and balance. Exercises and techniques can be learned that help you compensate for a weak leg or arm. A therapist can even fit you for a mobility aid and help you learn to use it so you can stay active even though you may have muscle weakness that limits your mobility.

Treatment for your condition depends on the nerves that are affected, the severity of your symptoms, and what accompanying medical conditions arise as a result of having MS. Your medical needs will change during flare episodes and depending on if your condition causes a gradual decline in your overall health and muscle strength. The right treatment might be challenging to find, but your neurologist will develop a treatment plan that manages your MS symptoms so you can lead a full life as long as possible.