MS Patients Struggle with Misdiagnosis and Ineffective Treatments, Survey Finds

MS Patients Struggle with Misdiagnosis and Ineffective Treatments, Survey Finds

A significant percentage of multiple sclerosis (MS) patients struggle with improper diagnoses and ineffective treatments, a national survey of more than 5,300 patients found.

The fifth annual survey, “MS in America 2017,” was conducted by Health Union between Jan. 25 and March 1, 2017. It was released through the MS online community.

Another survey finding was that fatigue and pain are two of the symptoms that have serious impacts on patients’ lives.

People with multiple sclerosis said an accurate diagnosis can prove difficult to obtain. Almost 50 percent of respondents reported having to make more than five office or hospital visits before receiving their diagnosis.

Forty-two percent said they were mistakenly diagnosed with other conditions, including depression, migraine disease, fibromyalgia, or chronic fatigue syndrome.

“Getting a proper MS diagnosis continues to be a difficult process. I know many people who end up with inexperienced doctors or even have symptoms they don’t mention because they don’t realize it could be MS-related,” Devin Garlit, a patient advocate, said in a press release.

The survey also found that 65 percent of patients start treatment within three months of their diagnosis.

“Finding the right treatment can be a difficult process that takes a lot of trial and error. You may have side effects with one, the next may not work well, another may not be covered by insurance,” Garlit said.

“We’re very lucky to live in a time where we have a lot of treatment options. It takes a lot of perseverance to find the right one, though. It was 13 years before I finally found a disease-modifying therapy that has stabilized me,” he added.

There are many symptoms of MS. Survey respondents listed the major ones as fatigue (87 percent); numbness/tingling (75 percent); memory loss/brain fog (70 percent); muscle weakness (64 percent); pain (55 percent); depression (53 percent); and vision problems (30 percent).

“Many people don’t realize that some of the worst MS symptoms are invisible,” Garlit said. “Severe pain, depression, and cognitive difficulties like memory loss are common in those with MS, but many MS patients themselves don’t even realize they are related to the disease. Not only are these symptoms difficult to live with, we also struggle to explain them to others, sometimes even doctors, because they can’t see them.”

Tim Armand, president of Health Union, said the survey showed that “people with MS struggle with a disease that impacts all aspects of their life in ways that many around them simply cannot see.”

“This is where a community like can make a significant difference. It brings people with similar experiences together to provide and receive support, share information, and feel validation,” he said.

Here is a video about the survey:


  1. Roy Apuzzo says:

    Was on Enbrel from 2002 to 2010 for Minor Psoriasis. Developed right leg drop foot. Tried PT, Injection in back and finally Doctors said I had a pinch nerve in L4 or L5-S1 area even thought it did not show on MRI. 1st surgery decompression L4 and L5-S1 failed, 2nd surgery L5-S1 AXIALIF fusion failed 6 month later. Surgeon did poor job on fusion. Had Neurology re-due MRI of Brain showed WHITE MATTER and then did Spinal Tap showing positive for PRIMARY PROGRESSIVE MS. What? I’M stunned and still to this day can not figure out. Right leg has now become totally useless. Need help with Back, Leg pain and how to possible find doctors qualified to possible do a revision back surgery to fused L5-S1. They are very scared because of me having MS Primary Progressive.
    If any medical professional can give me some advice it would be greatly appreciated.
    Roy APUZZO
    702-233-6854 .

    • Cynthia Fagen says:

      My first neuro strung me along for over 5 months before demanding that I have lower back surgery. I ran away from that and a couple months later a real Dr found I had definite SPMS and no back problem at all, except for spinal lesions. I am now on Tysabri after I lost the ability to drive during the delay. The way he is running his scheme is by keeping a good reputation by only running the racket on a fraction of patients who are only seen by his scum PA that is only there a few days a month.

  2. Robert M Rafferty says:

    Living with MS for over thirty years, I can tell you it is more then MS, IT’S A LACK IN THE TREATMENT OF CHRONIC ILLNESS!
    The bottom line is PROFIT needs to be removed from healthcare industry!

    • Tim Bossie says:

      Hey Robert, thank you for the comment. It is still sad to see that the “chronic illness” community still gets very little attention when it comes to treatment.

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