FAQs about MS diagnosis

Most people will receive an MS diagnosis between the ages of 20 and 50, although the disorder also can develop in older adults and children.

MS generally affects adults but it can be detected during childhood — a condition often referred to as pediatric MS, pediatric-onset MS (POMS), or early-onset MS. It is estimated that up to 5–10% of MS cases are diagnosed before the age of 16, with most of these patients receiving a diagnosis after age 10.

Doctors who specialize in disorders affecting the brain and nervous system, called neurologists, are usually a vital element in the healthcare team of an MS patient. However, the National MS Society recommends a comprehensive, coordinated care approach to manage the disease, which involves the expertise of other healthcare providers, including primary care physicians, urologists, mental health providers, and rehabilitation professionals.

No single test currently can rule out or confirm an MS diagnosis. Blood tests can, however, rule out other medical conditions with symptoms similar to those of MS, including infections such as Lyme disease, particular deficiencies in vitamins or minerals, and other inflammatory or autoimmune diseases such as lupus.

Yes. MS can go undetected for years. Research has suggested that many patients experience MS-related symptoms and signs several years before receiving a definite diagnosis of the disease. MS symptoms can vary widely between patients, as well as over time, making the diagnosis difficult.

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