The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam. It often is difficult to diagnose MS because the symptoms are similar to those of other conditions. There is no definitive test for MS; however, the findings of some tests can contribute to a diagnosis.

Tests may include:

MRI scan —This test uses magnetic and radio waves to check for damage to the myelin sheath of the nerves in the brain and spinal cord. A contrast substance may be used to help doctors identify damaged areas. MRI may also be used to track changes in the disease.

Evoked responses —This test records the speed of the electrical responses in specific nerves after a repeated sensory stimulus. This test can help identify abnormal areas caused by MS.

Lumbar puncture (spinal tap) —In this procedure, a small amount of fluid from around the spinal cord is removed and checked for white blood cells, antibodies, and proteins. Doctors look for abnormal changes associated with MS.

Other tests may be performed to rule out other conditions which may have similar symptoms.