Multiple sclerosis, also referred to by its short-hand name MS, is a disorder in which the body’s own immune system attacks the fatty material that surrounds the nerve fibers, causing damage in the process. This damage, which can occur in places such as the optic nerve, brain and spinal cord, prevents the body’s nerve fibers from sending signals correctly, which can result in symptoms such as fatigue, muscle weakness, numbness or tingling, pain, and difficulty walking, just to name a few.
As you can imagine, early diagnosis is key to receiving prompt treatment that could mitigate the damage suffered during attack episodes. In fact, some research suggests that, compared to patients not taking any MS medications, patients who do receive MS medicine early on are less likely to suffer disability in the short term. After considering this, you too may think getting an early diagnosis is a good idea as well.
Unfortunately, there is no single test doctors can use to properly diagnose someone with MS. Patients oftentimes have to go through a battery of tests, including MRIs, neurological exams, and sometimes even spinal taps before a doctor may consider diagnosing a patient. As if tests weren’t enough of a problem, there are several conditions that are commonly mistaken for MS, including Lyme disease, lupus, fibromyalgia and stoke, just to name a few.
It’s very important to point out to our Massachusetts readers that a delayed diagnosis or even a misdiagnosis for MS can be grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit, especially if all of your symptoms point to MS and a diagnosis is still not made. Because MS can cause severe disability as it progresses, current medical bills, future costs and the loss of earning potential are all things to consider when seeking compensation. Of course, it’s a good idea to consult with a skilled medical malpractice attorney first before taking legal action.
Sources: WebMD, “What Is Multiple Sclerosis?” Accessed Nov. 6, 2015
WebMD, “Early Treatment for Multiple Sclerosis,” Gina Shaw, Accessed Nov. 6, 2015
Everyday Health, “10 Conditions Commonly Mistaken for Multiple Sclerosis,” Beth W. Orenstein, Accessed Nov. 6, 2015