Aoife, MS Reporter: What guidance would you give to a primary care provider or general practitioner to help them recognise early signs and symptoms of MS and differentiate them from other conditions?
Helmut: Look, I think one answer is of course, refer to a neurologist and improve your knowledge. I think we’re trying to be a bit more specific; we’ve just published a document for primary healthcare providers to kind of educate them on multiple sclerosis, because it’s actually quite difficult. And to be honest, there are lots of symptoms that could be MS that could be anything; a bit of numbness or a bit of fatigue or even severe fatigue and it may or may not be specific, but there are specific signs and symptoms and at least those should be recognised. So people should be aware of these symptoms called optic neuritis or myelitis. So that if, for example, your numbness is actually something which has ascended over days, which has been painless and then gone away again, or if you had Lhermitte’s phenomenon where you get pins and needles and tingling and shock-like sensations down the spine when you bend your head, they’re actually very specific, so that should trigger an alert that this could be MS and lead to the early diagnosis, early referral, early diagnosis. Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all, because sometimes for many people with MS, the initial symptoms are so – vague is the wrong word, because obviously people are suffering from those symptoms, but they’re not sufficiently specific to necessarily trigger this could be MS. But once something occurs that should, with the right level of knowledge be more obvious, that should trigger an immediate referral.
Aoife: That’s fantastic then that that document is available to general practitioners.
Helmut:Yes, absolutely, people can download it from the website, the Brain Health website, which is… And it’s hopefully… the patients can download that too, people with MS can download that too and read it and actually give it to their GPs if they want to.
Read the Brain Health: Time Matters GP guide:
Expert: Helmut Butzkueven, Associate Professor
MS Reporter: Aoife