Multiple Sclerosis Fact Sheet

View Multiple Sclerosis Fact Sheet (PDF, 214 KB) »

Multiple sclerosis treatment at UK HealthCare

UK Neurology's Multiple Sclerosis Clinic offers access to state-of-the-art radiological and physiological testing for diagnosed or potential multiple sclerosis patients.

Multiple sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease that affects the central nervous system, which consists of the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves. Many patients with MS have a mild case, but some can be more severe causing disruption of communication between the brain and other parts of the body. Most patients with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 to 40. It is estimated that 250,000 to 350,000 cases have been diagnosed in the United States.


Because MS is a very unpredictable disease, symptoms may begin to improve then suddenly get worse. Symptoms of MS generally vary from patient to patient and may appear in any combination from mild to severe. Most MS patients experience muscle weakness and difficulty with coordination and balance. MS patients may experience other symptoms include the following.

  • Fatigue
  • Involuntary body stiffness or spasms
  • Loss of bowel or bladder control
  • Difficulties with concentration
  • Speech impediments
  • Depression


Research into the cause of MS is ongoing. Many investigators believe MS is an autoimmune disease in which the body, through its immune system, defensively attacks its own tissues. Researchers are trying to determine if a virus or environmental exposure during childhood may trigger the abnormal immune system response later in life. Although MS is not directly inherited, however, scientific evidence suggests that people with a family history of MS might be more susceptible to inheriting the disease. However, not all MS cases are genetically related.

Diagnosing multiple sclerosis

Because here is no single test to detect MS, it may be difficult to diagnose. A doctor will usually look at the patient's medical history and perform a complete physical examination, possibly including a blood test, to help rule out other possible diseases. After the initial tests are performed, three additional methods are used for diagnosing MS.

  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) - An MRI scans the patient's head and/or neck to look for
  • scarring caused by MS.
  • Cerebrospinal Fluid - A spinal tap performed on the patient to check the fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord.
  • Evoked Potential - Electrical diagnostic studies that look at various parts of the brain to see if there is scarring along nerve pathways or slowing messages.

Treating multiple sclerosis

Although there is no cure for MS, there are a variety of treatments to help patients' quality of life. There are several prescription medications available to help treat underlying symptoms and can help modify the course of MS.

In addition, there are a variety of beneficial rehabilitation programs for patients to help
restore or maintain the use of daily functions.

  • Physical Therapy
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Speech Therapy
  • Cognitive Rehabilitation
  • Vocational Rehabilitation

Lifestyle changes along with proper diet and exercise are key to those suffering from mild to moderate symptoms of MS.  


National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

National Multiple Sclerosis Society

Page last updated: 8/7/2015 3:23:18 PM