Multiple Sclerosis Diagnosis: Testing for MS

Last updated March 29, 2022, by Patricia Silva, PhD

Fact-checked by Ines Martins, PhD

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.

Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

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