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Multiple sclerosis


Alternative Names:

MS; Demyelinating disease

Treatment:

There is no known cure for multiple sclerosis at this time. But, there are treatments that may slow the disease. The goal of treatment is to control symptoms and help you maintain a normal quality of life.

Medicines are often taken long-term. These include:

  • Medicines to slow the disease
  • Steroids to decrease the severity of attacks
  • Medicines to control symptoms such as muscle spasms, urinary problems, fatigue, or mood problems  

Medicines are more effective for the relapsing-remitting form than for other forms of MS.

The following may also be helpful for people with MS:

  • Physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and support groups
  • Assistive devices, such as wheelchairs, bed lifts, shower chairs, walkers, and wall bars
  • A planned exercise program early in the course of the disorder
  • A healthy lifestyle, with good nutrition and enough rest and relaxation
  • Avoiding fatigue, stress, temperature extremes, and illness
  • Changes in what you eat or drink if there are swallowing problems
  • Making changes around the home to prevent falls
  • Social workers or other counseling services to help you cope with the disorder and get assistance
  • Vitamin D or other supplements (talk to your doctor first) 
  • Complementary and alternative approaches, such as acupressure or cannabis, to help with muscle problems
Support Groups:

Living with MS may be a challenge. You can ease the stress of illness by joining an MS support group. Sharing with others who have common experiences and problems can help you not feel alone.

Outlook (Prognosis):

The outcome varies, and is hard to predict. Although the disorder is chronic and incurable, life expectancy can be normal or almost normal. Most people with MS are active and function at work with little disability.

The following typically have the best outlook:

  • Females
  • People who were young (less than 30 years old) when the disease started
  • People with infrequent attacks
  • People with a relapsing-remitting pattern
  • People who have limited disease on imaging studies

The amount of disability and discomfort depends on:

  • How often and severe the attacks are
  • The part of the central nervous system that is affected by each attack

Most people return to normal or near-normal function between attacks. Slowly, there is greater loss of function with less improvement between attacks.

Possible Complications:
When to Contact a Medical Professional:

Call your health care provider if:

  • You develop any symptoms of MS
  • Your symptoms get worse, even with treatment
  • The condition worsens to the point where home care is no longer possible
References:

Houtchens MK, Lublin FD, Miller AE, Khoury SJ. Multiple sclerosis and other inflammatory demyelinating diseases of the central nervous system. In: Daroff RB, Fenichel GM, Jankovic J, Mazziotta JC, eds. Bradley's Neurology in Clinical Practice. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2012:chap 54.

Polman CH, Reingold SC, Banwell B, et al. Diagnostic criteria for multiple sclerosis: 2010 revisions to the McDonald criteria. Ann Neurol. 2011;69:292-302.

Rubin S. Management of multiple sclerosis: an overview. Dis Mon. 2013;59:253-260.


Review Date: 7/27/2014
Reviewed By: Joseph V. Campellone, MD, Department of Neurology, Cooper University Hospital, Camden, NJ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. Copyright 2002 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

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