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Question :i Am A Vietnem Veteran With Multiple Spinal Cord Injuries. I Also Have Balance Problem

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Understanding and Diagnosing MS


Question :

I am a Vietnem Veteran with multiple spinal cord injuries. I also have balance problem which has been increasisng in severity since I got out of the army. The severity is to my mind extreme, (passing out when I am dizzy). I also have numbness in both legs and hands from my spinal injuries. My question is, How does one know if he has MS and what can he do about it?

Answer :

The diagnosis of MS requires that no other explanation for the symptoms be found. In order to make a diagnosis of MS, they doctor has to address other possible conditions that might mimic MS. This is particularly difficult in the setting of spinal cord trauma. With spinal cord trauma, the spinal cord is often abnormal on both the clinical examination and on imaging with MRI. Furthermore, head injuries often occur at the same time as the spinal cord injury. This can result in spots on the brain MRI scan. Though there may be some difference in the locations of MRI changes in brain/spinal cord injuries and MS, it is often difficult to tell the two conditions apart.

Involvement of the optic nerve can be evaluated with visual evoked potentials. Optic nerve involvment can occur with trauma, but it is more common in MS. Also, cerebrospinal fluid tests (spinal tap) are commonly abnormal in MS, but rarely abnormal in trauma.

However, the most certain way to tell the two diseases apart is that new lesions develop over time in MS but not in trauma. This means that repeated MRI scans show increasing changes with the development of new spots in MS, whereas trauma usually remains stable.

Addressing the many diseases that can mimic MS usually requires careful consideration by a physician.

SOURCE: http://www.va.gov/ms/faq/afmviewfaq.asp?faqid=186

Edited by allan (see edit history)
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