Sunday, September 28, 2008 Christy, Community Member, asks

Q: I was diagnosed with MS four yrs. ago at 50. How do you know for sure it isn't another disease/Lyme

Friends have asked questions that make me wonder if I have MS or could it be something else, like Lymes disease.  Also, it was mentioned that an eye Dr. can tell if you have MS? Is this true? and how can you be absolutely sure that you have MS and not something else?

I had an MRI that showed lesions on my brain and one on my spinal cord.  I'm sure other people experience these questions, and I would like to be sure.

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Answers (5)
Lisa Emrich, Health Guide
9/29/08 10:14am

Hi Christy and welcome to Health Central.


Sometimes it's very common to doubt our diagnosis of MS and we might be tempted to look for other causes of our symptoms.  That's one reason why it is so important to consult a neurologist who specializes in multiple sclerosis, especially since so many other diseases can mimic the neurological deficits seen in MS.


Here's an Introduction to Lyme Disease which gives you a starting point.  Here's a patient on the Chronic Pain site who describes treatment of Lyme Disease


If you experience Optic Neuritis, an opthamologist may be able to see a dulled signal coming through the optic nerve and might suspect MS.  But there are other causes of optic neuritis as well.


You mention having MRI which showed lesions.  Some other tests which are used to diagnose MS include bloodwork (to rule out other causes of symptoms), evoked potentials, spinal tap, neurological exam, and time.  When MRIs are used, it is important to have the images taken before a contrast agent has been injected into a vein and after the contrast agent has been injected.  Also, brain and spinal MRIs are useful.


Basically, it is also useful to get a second opinion.  However, sometimes family and friends struggle with the diagnosis as well and might hope for a different cause, one which can be treated and 'cured.'


I hope that helps, although I rambled on a bit.

Merely Me, Health Guide
9/29/08 3:48pm

Hey Christy


Lisa has done a wonderful job at answering your questions today...I will just chime in with my personal opinion and some on-line research I did to try to give you even more information.


I went through this too...wondering if this could be something else.  But I am thinking that while misdiagnoses happen...I think it is more rare than not.  Did they do a battery of blood tests for you at first?  I know they did with me.  What does your doctor say about your concerns that it could be something else like Lyme's disease?  What specifically made you think it could be that instead of MS?  I suppose your doc could test you if you were very worried.  But after all this time has passed I am going to make an uneducated guess that it probably isn't Lyme Disease. 


I am not a doctor, however, and so I will give you some more information from folks who are wondering the same thing.


Here is a personal blog of a man named Erik who has been going through the process of determining whether he has MS, Lymes Disease, or both. 


Then I also found an article written by a woman named April Clark, who talks about her attempts at figuring out what is medically going on for her.  Here is an interesting quote from that article:


"Lyme disease creates lesions on the brain like multiple sclerosis (she was diagnosed with MS at 19), and it's this epidemic that's totally misdiagnosed and under diagnosed," Stevenson said. "I've been tested twice before for Lyme and it was negative. It takes an average of two years of symptoms to diagnose. I'm just going to follow what the doctor has to say and probably undergo long-course therapy of antibiotics."


And is a long thread based upon a question similar to yours about the differences between Lyme Disease and Multiple Sclerosis. 


There are so many rabbit holes that you can potentially explore, but I would begin first by presenting your concerns to your doctor so that he or she can either ease your mind or begin to act upon your concerns. 


This was a very intriguing question.  Thank you for asking it.  I wish you all the best.


JohnCE, Community Member
12/29/08 2:31am
You doctors should have tested for lymes right off the bat. Their should have been a battery of testing done including a brain MRI a to be used as a baseline. Mine didn't show up until my 7 or 8th MRI. I went from neurologist to neurologist, mis DXD, finally went to see the main MS Dr. at Duke. He was the one that did the studies for North America on Betaseron. He at the time said he couldn't prove I had it, but...after waiting for 6 months in the dark, on 60mG prednisone/day, he looked at me for 5 minutes and had me admitted on the spot and within 10 minutes I was on a 1,000 cc Solumedrol drip for fiur days and then taper. Usually they use to seperate events to make a ruling of MS, but not always, an MRI can also show white lesions/scarring in you brain/spinal cord. Seems like time for another MRI......God Bless...John Reply
Ana2511, Community Member
10/28/09 3:57am

Hi Christy,


Try, it helps!


Good luck!


Jan2511, Community Member
11/10/09 10:23am

good luck!

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By Christy, Community Member— Last Modified: 06/18/12, First Published: 09/28/08