MS may begin long before diagnosis

People with multiple sclerosis (MS) often experience symptoms of the condition years before diagnosis, a new study has found.

It’s already documented that people with MS often need medical attention more regularly than people without the condition before they are diagnosed. Some experts have previously thought this to be a prodromal phase of MS – that is, a period of mild, unspecific symptoms that occur prior to the development of the condition.

Researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) analysed insurance data of documented medical complaints for 10,262 MS patients in the five years up to their diagnosis. They compared this with data from 73,430 people who did not have an autoimmune condition. They also looked at the data of 98,432 people with psoriasis, an autoimmune condition that affects the skin, and 15,502 people that had Crohn’s disease, which is autoimmune and affects the gut.

The study found that compared with the other groups, the people with MS had significantly more medical issues pre-diagnosis, and they ‘represent symptoms suggestive of demyelinating events or other neurologic diagnoses,” the researchers wrote. They said that they believe this time may not be a prodromal phase, and the person may actually be having unrecognised MS symptoms.