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What Is Multiple Sclerosis?

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic, often disabling, inflammatory neurological disorder of the central nervous system (brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves).  MS damages the protective insulation (called myelin) that surrounds the nerves and may also damage the nerves. Demyelination and scarring occur as the disease progresses.  This interferes with the ability of nerve cells to communicate with each other, producing the variety of symptoms that may occur. 

Signs & Symptoms of MS

Signs and symptoms of multiple sclerosis vary from patient to patient, depending on the amount of damage and which nerves are affected. Symptoms of MS include:

  • Fatigue
  • Balance problems
  • Numbness or weakness in one or more limbs--typically on one side of the body at a time or on lower half of the body
  • Partial or complete loss of vision, usually in one eye at a time
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Tingling or pain in parts of  the body
  • Spasticity
  • Dizziness
  • Depression
  • Tremor, lack of coordination

Progression and Patterns of Symptoms

The progress, severity, and specific symptoms of MS are unpredictable, varying from person to person and from time to time in the same person.  Symptoms often come and go with symptoms sometimes disappearing for extended periods of time before recurring.  Most patients have episodic patterns of attack and remissions throughout the course of the disease, while others may have a slowly progressive form of the disease. 

Evaluation & Diagnosis of MS

Multiple Sclerosis is one of the most common disorders of the central nervous system in younger adults, affecting three times as many women as men.

At this time, there is no single, definitive laboratory test to diagnose MS and no cure for MS.  A diagnosis is made through a neurologic examination and review of a patient’s medical history. Treatments are designed to modify the course of the disease and to treat the symptoms. Our mission is to help patients gain control of their MS and regain their desired quality of life by applying the most comprehensive diagnostic and treatment methods available.

Our team of physicians treats patients in all stages of MS, from the earliest symptoms through established disease. The MS team uses state-of-the-art MRI facilities, capable of advanced spectroscopic, diffusion tensor imaging with tractotomy, functional imaging (fMRI) and serial quantitative image analysis to assist in determining if these symptoms are related to MS and to aid in monitoring and evaluating disease evolution and the effects of therapy over time.