About Multiple Sclerosis

What is MS?

Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune inflammatory and demyelinating disorder that affects the central nervous system (CNS), including the brain and spinal cord. The cause of MS is uncertain, but is partly genetic and partly environmental. MS typically affects young women and men.

What are the types of MS?

The most common type of MS is called relapsing-remitting (RRMS) and is caused by inflammation in the CNS. A relapse is a clinical attack that causes new disability for a few days or weeks. Many patients slowly improve over time from a relapse– the disability remits.

After some years many patients with RRMS will experience slowly increasing disability of walking or bladder control. This is called secondary progressive MS.

About 10% of patients never experience a relapse and have slowly increasing disability from the outset. This is primary progressive MS.

How is MS diagnosed?

MS is usually diagnosed by a neurologist based on typical symptoms and clinical signs of disability which evolve over a number of days. The MRI scan of brain and spinal cord is almost always abnormal and shows typical findings. Sometimes a lumbar puncture is performed to examine spinal fluid and help confirm the diagnosis.

The first relapse is termed a clinically isolated syndrome of demyelination (CIS).

What are the common symptoms of a relapse?

  • Optic neuritis with transient visual loss and pain on eye movement
  • Double vision
  • Vertigo
  • Slurred speech
  • Facial numbness on one side
  • Various patterns of weakness and muscle stiffness
  • Different locations of sensory loss with numbness, pins and needles, pain
  • Incoordination or unsteadiness of limbs or walking
  • Bladder or bowel difficulty

Clinical Research at the Monash MS Clinic

Our understanding and treatment of MS is constantly advanced by basic and clinical research. By being engaged in clinical research our clinic is able to improve the management of MS and ensure that we are at the cutting edge of MS advances.

As a patient attending the MS Clinic, you may be asked to participate in clinical research. You will receive the same care whether you are involved in a clinical trial or not. If you decide to be involved in research your participation will remain anonymous and you can choose to withdraw from a trial at any time.