Multiple Sclerosis Tricky To Diagnose

Mercy Neurologist Dr. Bonnie Gerecke Discusses Challenges To Diagnosing Multiple Sclerosis

January 6, 2014
Dr. Bonnie Gerecke, Neurology

Mercy Medical Center Neurologist, Dr. Bonnie Gerecke

Multiple sclerosis is one of the trickiest diseases to diagnose, and it will often require the patient and the doctor to be persistent.

Rosalyn Johnson said 10 years ago, she started feeling badly.

"I had knee pain and pain going down my leg. My foot got weak. I could hardly walk," she said.

She went to a doctor and was told she had arthritis or nerve damage, but she knew it was something more.

"When they told me it was arthritis, I knew that is was more than just arthritis. I wasn't satisfied with it, so I switched doctors and lucked into a doctor who looked further into the situation," Johnson said.

She visited Mercy Medical Center Chief of Neurology, Dr. Bonnie Gerecke, who did further testing and diagnosed her with Multiple Sclerosis or MS, which is a disease of the central nervous system that affects the brain and spinal cord. According to Dr. Gerecke, it's a disease that is hard to pin down.

"I think the main reason it is difficult to diagnose is many of the symptoms patients with MS experience are symptoms that people who don't have the condition experience. For example, fatigue is a common symptom of MS, but who doesn't experience fatigue?" Dr. Gerecke explained.

Doctors need to go over a patient's clinical history, give a thorough exam and then decide if additional tests are needed.

"Usually the MRIs are confirmatory, so the brain and spinal MRIs for the most part confirm the diagnosis, although that's not always the case," Dr. Gerecke said.

Johnson said for patients experiencing similar problems to not let doctors write them off, and listen to their bodies. Although there is no cure for MS, she at least now has the proper medication to treat her disease.

"I feel great and relieved that I do know the answer and what's going on with me," she said.

View Mercy neurologist Dr. Bonnie Gerecke’s interview with WBAL-TV11 regarding Multiple Sclerosis or MS.

Dan Collins - Senior Director of Media Relations at Mercy Medical Center

Dan Collins, Senior Director of Media Relations

Email: Office: 410-332-9714 Cell: 410-375-7342

About Mercy

Founded in 1874, Mercy Medical Center is a university-affiliated medical facility named one of the top 100 hospitals in the U.S. by Thomson-Reuters with a national reputation for women’s health. Mercy is home to the nationally acclaimed Weinberg Center for Women’s Health and Medicine as well as the $400+ million, 20-story Mary Catherine Bunting Center. For more information visit Mercy online at, Facebook, Twitter or call 1-800-MD-MERCY.

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