(Natural News) Have you or someone you know been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS)? People who have must get a second opinion because it could be a misdiagnosis, warns a recently published study conducted in Los Angeles, California.
The study involved 241 people diagnosed with MS. These patients were referred to either the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center or the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) Health Multiple Sclerosis Clinic.
According to the study, nearly 18 percent of those patients received a wrong diagnosis. Furthermore, many of the patients had already undergone years of expensive treatment for nonexistent MS before they were given a correct diagnosis.
“The diagnosis of MS is tricky,” explained Cedars-Sinai researcher Dr. Marwa Kaisey, the lead author of the study. “Both the symptoms and MRI testing results can look like other conditions, such as stroke, migraines, and vitamin B12 deficiency.”
During the evaluation, Kaiser and her team learned that many of the patients did not even meet the accepted MS diagnostic criteria. These patients were referred to the two hospitals by other health care professionals who probably operated in Southern California. (Related: Research suggests cannabis can relieve symptoms, pain associated with MS.)
Misdiagnosis of multiple sclerosis leads to years of taking unnecessary drugs
To make matters worse, 72 percent of the patients misdiagnosed with MS endured an average of four years of treatment before health care professionals realized their mistake.
Many pharmaceutical drugs used to treat MS have harsh side effects. The patients put up with these adverse effects for years due to the misdiagnosis.
In radiologically isolated syndrome, MS lesions are typically present, but not the symptoms. Spondylopathy, meanwhile, is a disorder related to the spinal vertebrae that could also be seen in MS. Nerve damage or neuropathy is also associated with the the disabling disease.
According to Kaisey, many patients suffered from the adverse effects of the pharmaceutical drugs they were wrongly prescribed based on incorrect diagnoses. Meanwhile, their actual medical conditions were left untreated for years.
As a result of this error, the patients paid a hefty price physically, mentally, and financially.
Kaisey said that her team is now done with the first step, which is identifying the problem surrounding the misdiagnosis. They are ready to start working on solutions, such as raising awareness among both health care professionals and patients.
Get a second opinion if you’ve been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis
“Part of the reason there’s a relatively high degree of misdiagnosis in MS is that there’s still no single test, like a blood test, for the condition,” explained Dr. Jeffrey Cohen from the Mellen Center for Multiple Sclerosis in Cleveland, Ohio. “Basically, how we diagnose MS is that we build a case for it based on people’s symptoms and MRI findings, and rule out other possibilities.”
Cohen did not participate in the Cedars-Sinai-UCLA study. However, he did serve as an author for the latest diagnostic criteria for multiple sclerosis, which was released in 2018.
Cohen noted that even the latest process for diagnosing multiple sclerosis has many problems. Fatigue and many of the primary symptoms of the disease also appear in other health conditions.
He encouraged patients to assist their health care professionals by sharing accurate information regarding the symptoms they experience. It would further help if patients keep in mind that a full diagnosis takes time.
Health care professionals prefer to present their diagnosis as quickly as possible to get a head start on treating the disease. However, the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis requires a lot of information.
Accuracy and patience on the part of both physician and patient will go a long way in avoiding misdiagnosis of the condition.