Woman and doctor discussing a diagnosis in a medical practice - featured image to illustrate Is it MS

Is it MS?

Laura, MS-UK Helpline Supervisor, explains how she offers support when someone asks is it MS?

At the MS-UK helpline we regularly receive calls from members of the public who are concerned that they may have multiple sclerosis (MS). Many of these callers describe experiencing symptoms that are commonly associated with MS, such as fatigue, sensory issues, neuropathic pain and visual symptoms, all of which can be presentations of many other conditions.

When posed with the question ‘Is it MS?’ we understand the anxiety and concern that people experience due to the impact these symptoms may be having on them physically and also psychologically due to the ‘not knowing’, in terms of causation. For many, a formal diagnosis of MS or any other condition that is responsible for their symptoms can be both a source of concern and relief, as they have now received answers and feel that they can move their focus onto accessing appropriate treatments and therapies.

Bear in mind that it can take a significant amount of time before a neurologist can confidently diagnose MS in an individual, given the crossover of symptoms with other conditions. As there is no single procedure or test used to diagnose MS, it generally is a process of elimination which can take months, and occasionally extending into years before a formal MS diagnosis can be provided.

It is with this in mind that we always stress the importance of keeping a symptom diary, especially to those who contact us that are concerned about their health and the possibility of them having MS. A symptom diary can be a handy tool to help medical professionals understand more about you, how your health is being impacted by individual symptoms and as such facilitate the path to a formal diagnosis. It can also be useful for you to use as a point of reference during medical appointments. We have devised a handy symptom diary template which is available to download from our website.

Of equal importance is ensuring that you access solid factual information when looking to find out more about the possible causes of your health issues, prior to diagnosis. It can be easy for us to venture down that internet wormhole, spending hours following link after link, with the end result being that we are even more anxious and concerned than we were previously. Instead, access information from sources that you can trust. For example, the NHS website provides information about a whole range of conditions, symptoms and treatments, including how to get support if you are concerned.

More specifically regarding MS, our ‘Is it MS?’ Choices booklet offers a summary of things to consider if you are concerned that you may have MS, along with information about some of the other conditions that present similar symptoms and links to reliable sources from which you can gather more information about them.

If you or anyone you know are concerned that you may be affected by MS, please contact the MS-UK helpline who are available between 10am and 4pm Monday to Friday. Our service is confidential, free and at the very least provides you with the opportunity to discuss any concerns that you may have.

Do you have question for the helpline? Please call weekdays between 10am – 4pm for emotional support and information on 0800 783 0518