ZocdocAnswersCan doctors detect MS through blood work?

Question

Can doctors detect MS through blood work?

Is it possible for doctors to diagnose multiple sclerosis through blood work? I'm pretty sure it ran in my family, so I'm hoping that when I have routine blood work done, doctors would see abnormalities if they were there. If it's not that simple, what is involved in the test? How is it diagnosed and treated? And what are the first symptoms I should look for?

Answer

Multiple Sclerosis is a complex disease of the central nervous system that manifests as many seemingly unrelated neurological problems. Patients often report a sudden loss of vision that returns over time, muscle weakness, numbness, tingling, loss of sensitivity, trouble speaking or swallowing, or trouble walking. Changes in mood including depression are also common. MS is characterized by resolution of these symptoms following their return during a "flare." MS can be diagnosed clinically, meaning that if someone has two separate suspicious neurological impairments at separate times, MS is very likely. In most cases, patients present to a physician after their first episode. Instead of waiting for the second one to appear, we can diagnose MS through one of 3 tests. 1. Brain MRI looking for areas of demyelination, 2. Sampling the cerebral spinal fluid using a spinal tap looking for oligoclonal bands, or 3. the evoked potential's test Unfortunately, there are no blood tests for MS. There are many treatments for MS that are constantly evolving as newer agents are discovered. I wouldn't worry about treatments quite yet. The symptoms of MS can be subtle, but more than likely something very noticeable will happen such as loss of vision in one eye that comes back, or numbness/tingling or weakness in an arm or leg. If you develop any of these symptoms, call your doctor right away. Otherwise, you should schedule a routine visit with your primary care physician who can perform a neurological exam to insure there are no signs that are being missed. Good luck.

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