Discovering you have multiple sclerosis and learning to manage it can be challenging. Our team is here to help. Our goal is to guide you through diagnosis and to treatment strategies that help you lead the fullest possible life.
What is multiple sclerosis?
MS is a chronic, unpredictable and wide-ranging disease that affects the central nervous system, disrupting the flow of information from the brain to the spinal cord. This can result in a variety of symptoms, such as pain, fatigue and numbness, among others.
MS is more common in women than in men. The disease most often occurs in people ages 20-40; however, it can affect people of any age.
Multiple sclerosis symptoms and risks
The severity and duration of MS symptoms can vary. Some people may be free of symptoms most of their lives, while others may experience severe, chronic symptoms. Some people diagnosed with MS may experience fairly minor complications, while others notice life-altering effects over the lifetime of the disease.
Some common early symptoms include:
- Abnormal sensations, such as numbness or prickling
- Difficulty walking
- Loss of vision due to inflammation of the optic nerve
As the disease progresses, patients with MS may experience muscle weakness, poor coordination, muscle stiffness or spasms, dizziness or bowel and bladder issues. About ½ of all MS patients will also experience memory, concentration and attention difficulties.
Multiple sclerosis diagnosis and screening
There is no definitive test to positively diagnose MS. Instead, doctors will conduct tests and evaluations to rule out other diseases. These typically include:
- A complete review of medical history
- A full neurological examination to assess mental, emotional and language functions as well as movement and coordination, vision, balance and sense function
- Blood tests to rule out other causes
- Magnetic resonance imaging
- Spinal tap or lumbar puncture to analyze the fluid around the spinal column
MS Achievement Center
Our Multiple Sclerosis Achievement Center is 1 of just 6 of its kind in the nation. The center is dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for those with advanced MS. The program provides physical rehabilitation, psychological support, health education and social activities.
Multiple sclerosis treatment
There is no cure for MS, and the cause is unknown. However, there are treatments that can help control symptoms, slow the progression of the disease or alter the path of the disease to improve function and mobility.
Your MS care team will work with you to develop a treatment plan based on your overall health and medical history as well as your age, the extent of the disease and your tolerance for medicines and therapies. Your symptoms can be treated through the following methods:
- Lifestyle changes
Your multiple sclerosis care team
The University of Kansas Health System has fellowship-trained doctors, clinical pharmacists and specialty-focused nurses on site. Our specialists form an interdisciplinary team to help people with MS live with the disease. Depending on your unique needs, this may include:
- Physical, occupational and speech therapists
- Social workers
Together, we can help you navigate the complex nature of MS.
Leading research and clinical trials
As part of one of the nation's premier academic medical centers, our care providers are committed to research and scientific discovery through the University of Kansas Medical Center. We can often include our patients in potentially lifesaving clinical trials and treatment options not available anywhere else.