Multiple Sclerosis Center

Patient Education

What is MS?

Multiple Sclerosis is a chronic neurologic disease that affects the central nervous system. More than 400,000 people in the United States alone are affected by multiple sclerosis with 200 new diagnoses every week. We do not know the cause of MS, although it is suspected that environment, genetics, viruses and immune-mediated processes play a role in its development.

Who Gets MS?

Previous epidemiological studies found that MS was more prevalent in people of European descent, suggesting a possible correlation with people living in colder climates. But this thought has been evolving to include a greater prevalence of MS in people of all ethnic backgrounds, including Black, Latino, and Asian descents.

What are Symptoms of MS?

No two patients are alike in their symptoms of MS. But some of the more common symptoms seen in our patient population include:  Fatigue, Numbness, Gait and Balance problems, Vision problems, Spasticity, Bladder/ Bowel/Sexual Dysfunction, Dizziness and Vertigo, Pain, Cognition Issues, Depression and Emotional problems.

How do we Diagnosis MS?

The answer to how we diagnosis patients with MS sometimes lies more in how we come to the diagnosis of MS. There are many mimics to MS and it is important to rule out other conditions before attributing symptoms to MS.  We follow the guidelines in the Revised McDonald criteria 2005 to help with the diagnosis. The clinical history and physical examination is very important in diagnosing the MS patient. Additional tests include MRI imaging of the brain and spinal cord, spinal fluid analysis, electrical evoked response tests, and additional serology to rule out other diseases.

What Treatments are Available?

There are currently 8 FDA-approved medications for MS treatment. These include a series of injectable therapies including Glatiramer Acetate and Interferon Beta therapies.  See websites below for additional information on Interferon therapies:

Patients now have the option of taking an oral form of treatment, Fingolimod. We also offer infusion services for Natalizumab and Mitoxantrone therapies.

In addition to MS disease treatments, we offer a variety of symptomatic medications to help with MS symptoms. One such approved medication to help with walking in MS patients is Ampyra

Stanford Medicine Resources:

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