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Multiple Sclerosis: Diagnosing MS Symptoms in Arizona

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a condition that makes it hard for the body's nerves to talk to each other. MS symptoms are the result of damage to the myelin sheath — the protective covering around nerves in the brain and spine. 

Dignity Health’s fellowship-trained and board-certified neurologists, neurosurgeons, neuropsychologists, and neurological rehabilitation specialists come together as a team to treat MS symptoms in Arizona. Their goal is to slow the progression of multiple sclerosis and maximize your good days. Find a Doctor online or by calling (855) 900-9813.

Our state-of-the-art infusion center at the Barrow MS Center opened in 2014 and is located on the St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center campus. It includes comfortable furniture and other features — such as personal TV screens — to help you pass the time during MS treatments. We also provide treatment for multiple sclerosis at:




Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis

Symptoms of multiple sclerosis vary and depend on which nerves are affected. They include: 

  • Vision problems, including blurry vision, poor color vision, and pain when moving the eyes
  • Tingling or numbness in the hands, feet, or face
  • Muscle weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle stiffness or spasms
  • Difficulty walking
  • Bowel and bladder incontinence
  • Balance problems, such as dizziness
  • Loss of cognitive function, such as the ability to problem solve
  • Generalized pain
  • Problems with swallowing or speech
  • Depression and other mood changes


Diagnosing Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms at Dignity Health

It can take a long time to diagnose multiple sclerosis. Your doctor will need to rule out other neurological conditions that cause similar symptoms. This will involve a specialized neurological exam to test muscle tone and reflexes and a thorough medical history. Since worsening of symptoms over time is a hallmark of the disease, your doctor may not be able to definitively diagnose multiple sclerosis after symptoms first appear. Sometimes tests, such as MRI scans, need to be repeated to confirm that myelin sheath damage is getting worse. 

Neurologists use a defined set of guidelines to diagnose multiple sclerosis, which involves looking for damage to nerves in the spinal cord and brain, such as the optic nerves. Common tests for this type of damage include:

  • Visual evoked potential (VEP), a noninvasive test that measures the health of the optic nerves
  • Imaging studies, which can show areas of damage to the myelin sheath or plaques; Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is often the scan of choice
  • Spinal tap (lumbar) puncture, to examine cerebrospinal fluid for markers associated with multiple sclerosis 

Dignity Health offers a range of treatment options for multiple sclerosis in Arizona.