Functional symptoms in clinically definite MS--pseudo-relapse syndrome

Int MS J. 2008 Jun;15(2):47-51.


Although the diagnostic criteria for multiple sclerosis (MS) have become more formalized and sensitive in the era of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanning, the assessment of individual relapses may not always be straightforward or easily linked to a particular lesion seen on imaging. In addition, acute episodes often have to be assessed outside of normal working hours or when the individual patients usual medical team is not available. Often the emergency department physicians have little formal neurological training and are under time pressure to get patients through the system as quickly as possible. It is therefore possible to mislabel functional symptoms as being true relapses. To illustrate scenarios of possible pseudo-relapse, three clinical vignettes are described. Misclassification of functional symptoms as relapse carries a number of inherent risks. Functional symptoms can be multifactorial and may cause a burden of disease. A multidisciplinary approach may be useful in minimizing unnecessary harm and identify if there is more than meets the eye to an episode of clinical deterioration.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Sclerosis, Relapsing-Remitting / complications
  • Multiple Sclerosis, Relapsing-Remitting / diagnosis*
  • Multiple Sclerosis, Relapsing-Remitting / psychology
  • Psychophysiologic Disorders / diagnosis
  • Psychophysiologic Disorders / etiology
  • Psychophysiologic Disorders / therapy
  • Syndrome