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Possible MS

Find information, resources and tips for managing that challenging time before a diagnosis of MS can either be confirmed or ruled out.

Diagnosed in 2002

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If you have come to this page, you’re probably worrying that you or someone you care about may have MS. Perhaps you’ve read descriptions of MS on the internet that sounded like symptoms you are experiencing. Maybe someone else in your family has MS and you’re worried about your own chances of developing it. Or, perhaps you’ve been told by your doctor that you might have MS because you have experienced a single episode of MS-like symptoms.

Whatever your situation is, we’re glad that you have come to the National MS Society for assistance. We are here to help you — with information about MS, tips for deciding when and how to tell people about your medical issues, and whatever else you may need during this difficult time.  For referrals to healthcare providers in your area, call 1-800-344-4867 to speak to one of our MS Navigators®. Here is some information to get you started:
What it means to have possible MS
Featured Video

Possible MS

Rock Heyman, MD, defines the term clinically isolated syndrome, and describes what it means to have possible MS.

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Is there someone I can talk to about my situation?

Absolutely. If you have questions about MS — what it is, how it’s diagnosed, how it’s treated, what might happen or any other issues that are of concern to you, call 1-800-344-4867 to speak to one of our MS Navigators®.

Why can’t the doctor tell me what’s wrong with me?

While diagnostic criteria exist to help make an accurate diagnosis of MS, it is not an easy disease to diagnose. There is no single test for multiple sclerosis. Second, the diagnosis cannot be made until the healthcare provider finds evidence of two episodes of disease activity in different locations in the central nervous system that have occurred at different points in time. And third, most MS symptoms, particularly early in the disease, can be caused by other conditions, which means that your healthcare provider needs to rule out all other possible explanations. 

Very often, when a central nervous system problem, such as MS, is suspected, a number of tests will need to be done before the diagnosis is confirmed. One of those test, MRI, is an important test that helps with the diagnosis as it can reveal areas of damage that are typical of MS.

Are there any treatments available to help me in the meantime?

  • If your healthcare provider believes — based on your medical history, physical exam, and test results — that you have clinically isolated syndrome and are at high risk of developing MS, there are medications that have been shown to delay the development of clinically-definite MS.
  • If you’re experiencing symptoms that are making you uncomfortable or interfering with your everyday activities, be sure to discuss them with your healthcare provider. Many symptoms can be successfully managed even without a confirmed diagnosis.
  • If you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed out by your symptoms or the uncertainty of the diagnosis, consider talking with a counselor about it. The Society can refer you to a professional in your area for help in dealing with this difficult situation.

What should I say to my employer about my medical problems and absences from work?

It’s important to keep in mind that the information you share now may affect your employment situation in the future. Before sharing any details with your employer or colleagues, contact the National MS Society for information about your rights in the workplace or check out the employment information on our website.


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