Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a condition which affects the central nervous system of the body. The problem with this ailment is that it is chronic, progressive and autoimmune in nature. When the immune system makes an attack on the myelin sheath, which provides protection to the nerve fibers in the brain and the spinal cord, multiple sclerosis is triggered. The depletion of the myelin sheath is termed as demyelination and it leads to communication problems between the brain and the nerves. There are problems in following instructions and carrying out important functions of life. With the myelin sheath under constant stress, there are high chances of nerve damage in the long run.
What are the Causes Leading to Multiple Sclerosis?
The exact cause which leads to multiple sclerosis is still not known to doctors and medical researchers. There are assumptions that various kinds of environmental and genetic factors might play a crucial role in the development of multiple sclerosis. Since the exact cause of the problem is still not located, there is no definite cure or treatment for the problem too. There are some treatments which can just help in alleviating the symptoms and better the condition of the patient to some extent.
Diagnosing Multiple Sclerosis Through a Blood Test
Diagnosing Ms by Blood test for MS (multiple sclerosis) is quite difficult, particularly in the initial stages of the problem. Also, there is no single test that can help in diagnosing multiple sclerosis. However, doctors recommend taking blood tests. Though these tests cannot firmly diagnose multiple sclerosis, they help in ruling out other neurological conditions, which come with almost similar symptoms like multiple sclerosis, including syphilis, Lyme disease, HIV/AIDS, rare hereditary disorders etc.
Of late, however, there have been some developments where a blood test for MS could diagnose multiple sclerosis. In a study of 3 groups of patients – multiple sclerosis patients, other neurological disorder patients and control group, a blood sample was collected from each patient in the groups and given for testing. In a lab-test, the blood samples were used to measure the amount of C-peptide added to the blood that would bind to the red blood cells.
The results were amazing where it was found that more peptides got bound to the red blood cells from patients who suffered from multiple sclerosis. Almost 98.3% multiple sclerosis patients were correctly diagnosed with the help of this blood test. Along with diagnosing multiple sclerosis, this test also helps in understanding as what exactly happens to the nerves and cells during multiple sclerosis. The potential of C-peptide binding might be an assured blood test for MS in assisting the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis through simple minimally invasive blood investigation.
Other Tests That Might Help in The Diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis(MS)
Since blood tests are not enough for diagnosing multiple sclerosis, other kinds of tests and investigations are also suggested by doctors. Some of them are as follows:
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
One of the most common ways of diagnosing multiple sclerosis is via magnetic resonance imaging, also known as MRI. In this process, magnetic fields and radio waves are used for evaluating relative water content in the body tissues. Detection of normal and abnormal tissues is possible with this method along with spotting irregularities of any kind. Highly sensitive and detailed image of the brain and spinal cord can be obtained with MRI. Both CT scans and X-rays use radiation, but there is no such use in MRI. If there is demyelination, MRI report will show the same. MRI takes 15 minutes to an hour and patient should take that much of time and go for the investigation.
Also known as spinal tap, lumbar puncture is also used for diagnosing multiple sclerosis(MS). Sample of cerebrospinal fluid is taken and sent for testing. This process is invasive in nature as a needle is inserted in the lower back portion, between the vertebrae and the spinal canal. Cerebrospinal fluid can be collected from here for testing. Local anesthesia is administrated for the process and it takes prior preparation for the test. People suffering from multiple sclerosis will have greater numbers of white blood cells in the spinal fluid and the amount is seven times more than normal.
New Kinds of Tests Under Development for Diagnosing Multiple Sclerosis(MS)
Medical science is advancing by leaps and bounds. As a result, researchers and scientists are trying to develop new methodologies for detection of multiple sclerosis. Blood tests are being developed which will detect biomarkers, which are integrally associated with multiple sclerosis(MS). The risk factors can be evaluated and further treatment can be done regarding the ailment.
Medically Reviewed By
Maanasi specializes in health topics including diet and nutrition. A mother of an untiring seven year old, she enjoys nurturing her love affair with English. She is often found nestled with a book, plopped against a dozen pillows, smiling away at the brink of finishing yet another book of the many dozens, that adorn the shelves of her Mini Library!