welcome to TIMS, cait,
In order to have MS 'diagnosed' there is a checklist called the macdonald criteria. mri is one part of it, plus a bunch of optional tests for things like l'hermitte's sign etc, visual evoked potentials, evoked potentials, lumbar puncture, etc. the basic criteria are here:
doctors should rule out b12 deficiency or other possible differential diagnoses.
the latest development in the world of ms is called CCSVI. this is very new. jugular veins of a number of diagnosed ms patients have been found to be malformed or blocked to various degrees (in some cases missing entirely)
it is possible that the impaired blood flow causes symptoms before it causes lesions that show up on MRI. it has long been acknowledged that lesions have little to do with symptoms.
early findings in ms patients with CCSVI show correlation between the location of blockage and the type of ms experienced.
what remains unknown is whether all jugular issues are basically birth defects, or not. and if not, how do these venous narrowings form? there are many questions that have yet to be answered.
never let anyone tell you these things are in your head. keeping a journal of symptom occurrence over time can help doctors and others get a bit of perspective on what you live with.
check out the CCSVI forum, and also watch the W5 video segment at
http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/s ... ?s_name=W5
i'll warn you, if you don't already know, that the airing of the W5 episode has caused a s*!t storm of clamouring, freaking out a lot of neurologists world-wide.
many are not receptive, and centres who are aiming to start scanning and/or treating ms patients are swamped with inquiries. we are going to have to accept that it will take time for studies to be done and results to come through.