Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a central nervous system disorder that affects the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves. It is believed to be an autoimmune disease, which means that the illness is caused by the body’s own immune system.
Multiple sclerosis usually affects women more than men. The disorder most commonly begins between ages 20 and 40, but can be seen at any age.
What Causes Multiple Sclerosis?
The exact cause is not known, but multiple sclerosis is believed to result from damage to the myelin sheath, the protective material that surrounds nerve cells. It is a progressive disease, meaning the nerve damage gets worse over time.
Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis
There is no single test to determine if a person has MS. Since symptoms of MS can mimic many other neurological disorders, a diagnosis is made by carefully ruling out other conditions. Symptoms of multiple sclerosis can include:
- Blurred or double vision
- Red-green color distortion or even blindness in one eye
- Muscle weakness in the extremities and difficulty with coordination and balance (in the worst cases, partial or complete paralysis)
- Feelings such as numbness, prickling, or "pins and needles" sensations
- Speech impediments
- Hearing loss
- Cognitive impairments, such as difficulties with concentration, attention, memory and poor judgment
Over the course of the disease, some symptoms will come and go, while others may be more lasting. Symptoms can vary widely from patient to patient, requiring a thorough evaluation to reach a diagnosis.
Expert Diagnosis of MS
To diagnose multiple sclerosis, our specialists will conduct a careful medical history, a neurologic exam and various tests. These tests may include MRIs, blood tests and spinal fluid analysis.
Other tests include:
- A neurological exam
- Eye examination
- Head or spine MRI scan
- Spinal tap
- Cerebrospinal fluid tests, including, a test to look for inflammation-related substances in the cerebrospinal fluid
- Sensory stimuli testing, known as evoked potential testing
We focus on the whole patient, as this is especially true of our approach to MS. Our specialists will work directly with you to develop a treatment plan that will maximize your physical capabilities and minimize symptoms of MS, such as of fatigue, spasticity, bowel and bladder dysfunction, sexual difficulties, mood disorders and pain.
Although there is currently no cure for multiple sclerosis, our doctors provide individualized treatments that can decrease the frequency of MS attacks and impede the onset of permanent disability.
Treatments include oral medications, infusions, physical therapy, speech therapy, monthly chair yoga classes and support groups, all of which have provided our patients with significant relief.