Other Conditions’ Symptoms May Foretell Onset of MS, Canadian Data Suggest

Vijaya Iyer, PhD avatar

by Vijaya Iyer, PhD |

Share this article:

Share article via email
ms and other conditions

Many patients report a history of other conditions such as migraine headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia, and mood and anxiety disorders, before being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS). According to a new study, these symptoms could be warning signs of MS and help in its early detection.

“Prodrome” is a set of early symptoms indicating onset of disease. There is an accepted prodrome for several other neurological conditions, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, which help in their early detection.

Now, researchers from The University of British Columbia (UBC), Canada, conducted the first study to identify the prodrome for MS. The study was funded by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

In the study “Five years before multiple sclerosis onset: Phenotyping the prodrome,” published in the Multiple Sclerosis Journal, researchers reviewed the health records of MS patients from four Canadian provinces: British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Nova Scotia.

Researchers took a closer look at the history of these patients, prior to their MS diagnosis, to help identify a cluster of conditions that can serve as an early indication of MS.

The health records of 14,000 MS patients and 67,000 healthy individuals from 1984 to 2014 were reviewed.

Discuss the latest research in the MS News Today forums!

Results showed that fibromyalgia was more than three times, and irritable bowel syndrome almost two times, more prevalent in individuals who later developed MS, compared to the healthy control group.

Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that causes pain in muscles and soft tissues (widespread musculoskeletal pain); in irritable bowel syndrome, patients experience abdominal pain due to altered bowel movements. Both of these conditions arise due to improper communication between the nerves and the brain.

Furthermore, in MS patients, researchers found that the history of migraine headaches and mood or anxiety disorders (including bipolar disorder, depression, and anxiety) also were markedly higher prior to an MS diagnosis.

“The existence of such ‘warning signs’ are well-accepted for Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, but there has been little investigation into a similar pattern for MS. We now need to delve deeper into this phenomenon. … We want to see if there are discernible patterns related to sex, age, or the ‘type’ of MS they eventually develop,” Helen Tremlett, PhD, professor in the division of neurology at UBC and the study’s lead author, said in a press release.

MS Podcast
MS sidelined his dreams of playing pro football, so Tyler called an audible! Listen in as Jenn chats with Tyler Campbell, son of Football Hall of Fame legend Earl Campbell.

Listen here.

Dancing Doodle

Did you know some of the news and columns on Multiple Sclerosis News Today are recorded and available for listening on SoundCloud? These audio news stories give our readers an alternative option for accessing information important for them.

Listen Here