Editor’s note: “Need to Know” is a series inspired by common forum questions and comments from readers. Have a comment or question about MS? Visit our forum. This week’s question is inspired by the post “Is It a Multiple Sclerosis Diagnosis or Something Else?” from July 20, 2018. Have an experience you want to share? Leave a comment here or at the original forum topic.
For someone seeking answers to surprising and mysterious symptoms that suggest a neurological condition like multiple sclerosis, the notion of undergoing tests is not, in and of itself, unexpected.
However, blood tests — while familiar and easy for most of us to have — seem to inspire questions and confusion from people both in the middle of the diagnostic process and after the fact.
An MRI makes sense, as does a spinal tap or nerve conduction study. But why all the blood tests?
Types of blood tests for MS
Two types of blood tests are found to be useful for MS: diagnostic and maintenance.
It seems as if doctors want a whole lot of blood during their investigations into potential MS diagnoses. Unfortunately, no single test that can identify MS exists. These early-stage blood tests are meant to rule out MS “mimics.”
Many diseases present with the same symptoms as MS, and a blood test can easily identify many of these. This is important because doctors cannot treat a condition until it has been confirmed diagnostically, and in the case of MS, this means a differential diagnosis.
No matter how convinced a doctor is that you have MS, they must prove objectively that it’s MS and not Lyme disease, lupus, vitamin B deficiency, or some other disease that “mimics” MS before they can treat it.
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