Symptoms vary widely

Multiple Sclerosis can cause a wide range of symptoms and there’s no exact list of early signs. A first symptom of MS for one person may never be experienced by someone else.

There’s no typical pattern that applies to everyone – people can have different symptoms at different times.

A problem with vision, known as optic neuritis, is one of the more obvious early symptoms. This is often because it’s a more ‘concrete’ symptom as opposed to ‘vaguer’ neurological symptoms like numbness or tingling. You shouldn’t assume these symptoms are a sign of MS though – not everyone who experiences them will get an MS diagnosis.

There are many possible MS symptoms

If you’ve searched for symptoms online or you know someone with MS, it may be at the front of your mind. But many symptoms of MS can also be symptoms of other conditions.
Only a neurologist can diagnose MS. If your GP thinks your symptoms need further investigation, they’ll refer you to a specialist.

Vision problems
Tingling and numbness
Loss of balance and dizziness
Pains and spasms
Fatigue
Bladder or bowel issues
Sexual dysfunction
Cognitive problems with memory and thinking
Three medical professionals

Getting an MS Diagnosis

If you feel you are experiencing symptoms that may be MS the first person to see is your GP. Your GP cannot diagnose MS, only a neurologist can do this. A GP will ask about your symptoms and likely carry out an examination of your nervous system. They may arrange blood tests. If you are having trouble with your vision they may recommend you see an optician.

Your GP may refer you to a neurologist if they suspect you have a neurological condition like MS. Suspected cases of MS should be seen by a neurologist as soon as possible, however, unless seen as urgent, it may take several weeks for an appointment.

Neurologists are available all around Auckland. At Auckland Hospital, Dr Jennifer Pereira and Dr Zoe Dyer specialise in MS. They may also be available via private practice for those with medical insurance or paying for the consultation fee.

The neurologist will ask you a lot of questions about your symptoms, how long you’ve had them for and how they’ve changed over time. They will carry out an examination of your walking, movements, coordination, balance, reflexes, speech and eyes. They will want to rule out other conditions first, before confirming a diagnosis of MS.

The main test used now to diagnose MS is magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), but this may be backed up with other tests to rule out other conditions.

The hospital team works closely with MS Auckland, who provide community outreach and a wide range of non-clinical information and services.

We can help

Waiting for a diagnosis, or being newly diagnosed, can be an anxious time. Some people describe this period of time as ‘limbo’ – where they don’t have a diagnosis but they’re experiencing symptoms.

Our Community Advisors can help you through this time. They can meet with you in our Takapuna offices, at your home or a place convenient to you. They respect your privacy and need for discretion. While not medical staff, they are trained and experienced with MS and can help answer any further questions you or your family members may have.

The Community Advisors can also provide you with more information and suggest Support Groups, Exercise Groups, Peer Support people, Mentors, Counsellors, or other activities, workshops or resources that may help you during this time.

You can contact our Community Advisors by e-mailing info@msakl.org.nz, or phoning the office on 09 845 5921.

Please contact our Community Advisors for help