About MS

What is MS?

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic inflammatory disease of the central nervous system (optic nerves, brain and spinal cord). It causes damage to the axons (nerve fibers) and myelin (fatty substance insulating the axons), which can result in vision loss, weakness, numbness, cognitive changes, fatigue, pain, depression, and difficulty walking.   

Is there a cure for MS?

While there is no cure for MS, there are many treatment options approved by the FDA for relapsing MS. These therapies are used to prevent new lesions from forming, thereby decreasing the frequency of relapses. The goal of treatment, particularly early in the course of disease, is not only to prevent relapses, but also to decrease long term disability. 

Is there a known cause?

MS is likely caused by a complex interplay between genetics and the environment.  It is thought to be triggered when a genetically susceptible individual is exposed to a particular environment trigger.  Over 150 genetic susceptibility loci that can increase the risk of developing MS have been.  Certain environmental triggers, such as low vitamin D levels, tobacco use, obesity, organic solvents, and previous infections, have been implicated in the development of MS.

What are symptoms of MS?

Symptoms of MS vary from person to person. They may include weakness, stiffness, numbness/tingling, vision problems, difficulty walking, cognitive changes, fatigue, bowel or bladder changes, sexual dysfunction, pain, and depression.  At our center, we spend time with each patient discussing any MS symptoms they may be experiencing. We then formulate strategies and prescribe medications to help minimize and overcome their symptoms.

When should someone go to the doctor if they experience one of these symptoms?

If patients have new MS symptoms, they should call their neurologist immediately. Sometimes symptoms the patient has experienced before may be worsened by illness, stress, fatigue, and weather.  However, if the patient develops a new symptom or one that has suddenly worsened for no clear reason, he or she may be having a relapse and needs to be evaluated by a neurologist.

Learn more about diagnosis and treatments >

How can someone prepare for their appointment with the MS clinic?

To prepare for an appointment, patients should bring any medical records they have. It is also important to bring all MRI scans they have had in the past (reports as well as films or CDs). It is often useful if the patient prepares a written timeline of their neurological symptoms and any MS treatment they have had in the past.  Patients should have a list of questions prepared for the physician.