In Mayo Clinic's integrated practice, you may consult with specialists in physical medicine and rehabilitation about gait evaluation and gait aids, exercise programs, management of spasticity, bowel and bladder disorders and help with swallowing. Doctors trained in ophthalmology, urology, speech therapy, neurosurgery and other specialties are also available for consultation.
People who have multiple sclerosis may need extensive tests and examinations as part of their diagnosis. These tests may include:
- Medical history. Your doctor will obtain a detailed medical history and review your symptoms and pattern of relapse and remission or progression.
- Neurologic examination. A neurologist will examine parts of your nervous system systematically, including your gait, muscle strength, coordination and balance, sensation, vision, speech and cognitive function (memory and thought).
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Your brain, neck, spinal cord and soft tissues are most visible on an MRI. This technology generates tissue-slice images of your body on a computer using data generated by a powerful magnetic field and radio waves. MRI scans may identify areas of your nervous system where damage to myelin has occurred.
- Spinal tap (lumbar puncture). In this procedure, your doctor uses a thin, hollow needle to remove small samples of the cerebrospinal (surrounding the brain and spinal cord) fluid from within your spinal canal for laboratory analysis. A spinal tap can help your doctor determine the concentration of immune cells and proteins in cerebrospinal fluid.
- Evoked potentials. These electrical tests measure the speed of transmission of nerve signals from your eyes, spinal cord and brainstem to your brain. Slowed nerve transmission may be associated with myelin damage in these pathways.
Read more about MRI and lumbar puncture at MayoClinic.com.