Tag Archives: Mimic

Lupus and Lyme disease. Is that better than MS?

There are numerous diseases that can mimic multiple sclerosis.  An important aspect of forming a diagnosis is to first make sure of what you are not dealing with.

My blood test results came back showing positive readings for both lupus and lyme disease.  Talk about mixed feelings.  I did live in the northeast during the era of lyme disease so I could have been exposed.  In fact, there were moments when I was hoping that the lesions were decades old scars from exposure to lyme.  But lupus?

I looked up lupus online.  Like MS, it doesn’t have to mean the end of the world.  However, while there were countless articles online about new drugs and developments in the fight against MS, the front against lupus seemed a little quieter.  I was in the very strange place of having to hope for one horrible disease over another.

Dr Fundamental wasn’t buying it.  He examined me again and said that he would be shocked if I had lupus.  He was also skeptical of the significance of the lyme disease result.  He sent the report off to his friend, an infectious disease specialist.  That doctor concurred that the lyme disease result was suspicious and extremely unlikely to be the cause of my lesions.

For the lupus result, Doc F wanted a recount.  He sent me to have blood drawn again but this time he had it sent to a different laboratory who’s specialty was in rheumatology tests. The result came back negative.  Doc F was right and it seemed that I did not have lupus after all.  Whether that was good or bad was really hard to say.  At this point I was anxious to figure out which devil it was that we were dealing with.

It was back to the list to see what else we could check off.

There is no test for Multiple Sclerosis

There is no test for MS.  It would be great if you could give a little blood or pee in a cup and have the result come back from a lab as positive or negative.  Unfortunately, it is not that simple.

The standard definition is to have evidence of lesions at two or more locations, at two or more points of time.  I have found that the calling of the diagnosis can vary a bit from doctor to doctor.  Some are more conservative with making the diagnosis than others.  Some are also more experienced with MS and may be more skilled at reading an MRI (especially one done with contrast).

With Dr Fundamental being “very fundamental“, I expected him to be on the conservative end of the spectrum.  At the end of my appointment he explained our process to follow while we waited to see what happens.  There are numerous diseases that can mimic MS that we needed to rule out.  Luckily,  many of these have a test for them.  With each result that we would get back, either the case for or against it being MS would be strengthened.  Eventually we might have a preponderance of evidence supporting a diagnosis one way or the other.  That is, if the tests hadn’t identified any other cause.

Next step:  Donate a little spinal fluid and more blood.