by Rick Alan
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease of the brain and spinal cord. It is a long term condition that causes damage to the brain and spinal cord. There are several types of MS:
MS is caused by a problem with the immune system. Parts of the immune system attack nerve fibers in the brain, spinal cord, and nerves to the eyes. The exact reason for these abnormal immune actions is not known. Things that may play a role in development of MS include:
Abnormal Immune Responses Cause Nerve Damage
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MS is more common in women. It often first appears in people aged 15 to 50 years old. Other things that may increase your chance of MS include:
Symptoms may range from mild to severe and may include:
Symptoms may worsen with:
The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done. There is no test to confirm MS. Instead the doctor will rule out other conditions that cause similar problems. Tests may include:
There is no cure for MS. Treatment can help to ease symptoms and prevent or slow them from happening again. For primary and secondary progressive MS, treatment can also slow the progress of the disease. It may delay disability. Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Options include:
Medicine can help to slow MS. It may also help to manage symptoms. Types of medicine that can slow the progression of MS or prevent damage to nerve fibers include:
Corticosteroids may be given during active phases. It can help to reduce inflammation. It may lessen damage to the nerve fibers and shorten the length of relapses.
Symptoms may be managed with:
MS can impact different areas of health and wellness. Supportive therapy include:
Some alternative therapies that have shown some benefits include:
Alternative therapies should only be used along with a medical plan. Care team can help to coordinate plan.
Long term health issues and changes in ability can be stressful. Individual or group therapy can help to develop coping skills. It may help to ease stress and anxiety and improve quality of life.
Some MS have periods of time with no symptoms. Certain steps may help to delay or avoid relapses. It may also prevent a worsening of symptoms. Steps include:
There are no current guidelines to prevent MS.
Multiple Sclerosis Association of America
National Multiple Sclerosis Society
Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada
Multiple sclerosis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/multiple-sclerosis-ms/. Accessed September 13, 2020.
NINDS multiple sclerosis information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/All-Disorders/Multiple-Sclerosis-Information-Page. Accessed September 13, 2020.
What is MS? National Multiple Sclerosis Society website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed September 13, 2020.
4/25/2014 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T905969/Treatment-of-specific-impairments-in-multiple-sclerosis : Rosti-Otajärvi EM, Hämäläinen PI. Neuropsychological rehabilitation for multiple sclerosis. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2014;2:CD009131.
4/25/2014 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116285/Multiple-sclerosis-MS : Yadav V, Bever C Jr, Bowen J, et al. Summary of evidence-based guideline: Complementary and alternative medicine in multiple sclerosis: Report of the Guideline Development Subcommittee of the American Academy of Neurology. Neurology. 2014;82(12):1083-1092.
11/9/2015 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116285/Multiple-sclerosis-MS : Kuo CF, Grainge MJ, Valdes AM, et al. Familial aggregation of systemic lupus erythematosus and coaggregation of autoimmune diseases in affected families. JAMA Intern Med. 2015;175(9):1518-1526.
Last reviewed September 2020 by
Rimas Lukas, MD
Last Updated: 9/13/2020