Monitoring symptoms

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Letting your doctor know how you're doing is one of the ways they can keep track of your MS and there are a number of tools your doctor can also use to measure any changes in your symptoms. Find out about the tools.

Your doctor will want to keep a close eye on your brain to see how your MS is progressing. But this doesn't tell them everything as there could be damage taking place that isn't visible on a scan. Therefore, your doctor may also use a number of other tools to monitor any changes in your symptoms and to help assess how well your MS is being managed.

types


EDSS, which stands for the Expanded Disability Status Scale, is a way for doctors to quantify disability in MS.

It's useful because it can help them to track any changes, whether things are getting worse, staying the same, or if they're improving. Although this is based on a number of different things, currently EDSS scores are mostly focused on mobility. 

EDSS scale

The 9-Hole Peg Test

This is a simple piece of equipment used for something called the 9-Hole Peg Test.

Click the pegs to find out more.

The 9-Hole Peg Test measures how well your upper limbs are working by testing how well you can use both your dominant and non-dominant hands.

It’s quite simple and takes around 10 minutes. Your doctor or MS nurse will time how long it takes you to pick up 9 pegs, piece them in 9 holes and then remove them again

Symbol digit modalities

Your MS can cause physical symptoms but it can also affect your thinking and memory.

There are tests and questionnaires, which your doctor can use to measure your cognition, including your thinking and memory.

One test your doctor may use is the symbol digit modalities test, which involves matching up numbers and symbols. This is a way of measuring how fast you're able to process information.

key

Some tools doctors use look at a range of symptoms such as the Multiple Sclerosis Functional Composite (MSFC).

The MSFC measures three different things: mobility, how well you move and control your arms and hands, and thinking and memory. From this your doctor will work out a score which they can compare over time.

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Whether you're finding that your symptoms come and go, they aren't that bad or that you can make adjustments to your life to cope with them, but that shouldn’t be the case. You shouldn’t have to compromise your lifestyle or the things you enjoy doing because of your condition. Explore our talk to your doctor guide to support you in having conversations with your neurologist about any compromises you may currently be making.

It’s important that you keep an eye on your MS symptoms. Learn how you can keep track of any changes with our Keeping Track of MS article. You can also create your own Talk to Your Doctor guide to help communicate your priorities to your doctor at your next appointment.

  1. Making the most of appointments. Available at: https://www.mstrust.org.uk/understanding-ms/ms-symptoms-and-treatments/making-most-appointments. Last accessed: May 2018.
  2. Expanded disability status scale (EDSS). Available at: https://www.mstrust.org.uk/a-z/expanded-disability-status-scaleedss. Last accessed: May 2018.
  3. 9-Hole Peg Test. Available at: https://www.nationalmssociety.org/For-Professionals/Researchers/Resources-for-Researchers/Clinical-Study-Measures/9-Hole-Peg-Test-(9-HPT). Last accessed: May 2018.
  4. Multiple Sclerosis Functional Composite (MSFC). Available at: https://www.nationalmssociety.org/For-Professionals/Researchers/Resources-for-Researchers/Clinical-Study-Measures/Multiple-Sclerosis-Functional-Composite-(MSFC). Last accessed: May 2018.
  5. Brain health: Time matters in multiple sclerosis. Available at: https://www.msbrainhealth.org/report. Last accessed: May 2018.
  6. Cognition. Available at: https://www.msif.org/wpcontent/uploads/2014/09/MS-in-focus-22-Cognition-English1.pdf. Last accessed: May 2018.
  7. Benedict et al. Multiple Sclerosis Journal 2017; 23(5) 721-733.
  8. Diary of symptoms. Available at: https://www.mstrust.org.uk/a-z/diary-symptoms. Last accessed: May 2018.

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