The short answer is "no". There is actually no age limit in the diagnostic criteria for MS. Most individuals diagnosed with MS are between the ages of 20 and 50. Although this age range is most common, children as young as 2 years of age have been diagnosed and I have personally seen a patient in her 80's coming to medical attention with a first clinical attack. When an individual experiences the first recognized symptom of MS after the age of 50, we call this "late onset MS".
Even though there is no age criteria for the diagnosis of MS, a stipulation of the criteria warns that the physician needs to rule out alternative diagnoses that could mimic MS. That is not to say that every reportable mimic needs to be tested for (that would be quite expensive and submit many patients to unnecessary testing), but your personal story and neurologic examination can quickly rule out many possibilities.
It is also important to remember that as we age, all are susceptible to common health problems including high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, vascular disease, etc. Patients with MS are no different, and as you may imagine, the diagnosis later in life can be more difficult to tease apart from problems of older age. If there is ever a question about a diagnosis, it is completely acceptable to seek a second opinion from an independent MS specialist.
-A. Scott Nielsen, MD
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