Due to its complexity and variety of symptoms, MS is not easy to diagnose.
Even when the process runs smoothly, it can take a long time to get to the bottom of what’s causing a complex condition. Different possible causes need to be checked out before a diagnosis is made.
Find out more
Talk about it with someone who understands
Talking about it with people who are going through something similar can really help. Our chat forum New diagnosis and before a diagnosis can be a useful place to start, and you can call our helpline on 0808 800 8000.
If you want to talk to a professional about how you are feeling, the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) can help you find an accredited therapist in the UK - use their Seeking a Therapist search facility online.
Getting help without a diagnosis
You don’t need a ‘label’ to get help. You may feel like you are being dismissed by doctors, or be made to feel that you are wasting their time and resources. If symptoms are affecting you, you are entitled to help from the health and social care profession.
What benefits are there to having an early diagnosis of MS?
Knowing for sure can be a relief. It means you can get used to having MS. A diagnosis can mean you get treatments that provide relief from relapses or symptoms.
If you're diagnosed with a relapsing type of MS, within a few weeks of your diagnosis your specialist should talk to you about taking a disease modifying therapy (DMT). Studies show that, if you have relapsing MS and start a DMT soon after being diagnosed, you could get fewer relapses. And a DMT could also slow down how fast your disability gets worse.
Your rights at work
You might be having difficulties at work because of symptoms that don’t yet have a ‘label.’ Maybe these symptoms affect your attendance, how you do your current job or relationships with colleagues and management.
What benefits might you be entitled to?
Your symptoms and their effects are just as real whether you have a diagnosis or not. Use the benefits checker to see what you may be entitled to.
Talking to your doctor
It can be stressful to keep going back to your doctor with unexplained symptoms. To help yourself, make a list of the main questions you want to ask, highlighting two or three of the most important.
Read more on how to handle your doctor's appointments. If you aren't happy you can ask for a second opinion. For more information about how to do this see the NHS website or, in Scotland, NHS Inform.