While we still do not know the cause of MS, we know that it is an inflammatory disorder of the central nervous system that occurs in people with a tendency to such a problem. About 350,000 people in the United States have MS, about 1 in every thousand people. It is more common further north and south of the equator and are still unsure why this is. Females are 3 times more likely than males to get MS, a rate which is similar to other immune diseases.
In children this ratio may even be higher, with most of the patients being female. Girls with MS are more likely to have initial sensory symptoms (e.g. numbness and tingling) than boys. In addition, girls tend to recover more from their initial episode of MS than boys. MS is more common in Caucasians but can occur in other populations. There may be a link with reduced vitamin D levels and perhaps with decreased sun exposure. In children with MS, there may be an increased link with exposure to Epstein-Barr virus.
Most people with MS are diagnosed after the age of 18 and only 3-5% of all MS patients have the symptoms begin in childhood. There is a genetic component to MS. Having a mother or father with MS increases the risk to about 3-5% lifetime and having an identical twin increases the risk to about 30%. However, many people with MS have no close family member with the disease. Pediatric MS is similar to adult MS in the kinds of symptoms that occur.
Sensory Symptoms (changes in sensation)
- Other abnormal sensations
- “pins & needles” pain
- Visual disturbances
Motor Symptoms (changes in muscle function)
- Difficulty walking
- Bowel/ bladder problems
- Poor coordination
- Heat sensitivity
- Emotional changes
- Cognitive changes
- Sexual symptoms
At the Mellen Center for Multiple Sclerosis Treatment and Research, patients may meet with one or more members of the care team, depending on individual needs. On the first visit, patients typically meet with a neurologist who is primarily responsible for managing the patient’s medical care.
At future visits, patients will also meet with a clinical nurse specialist or physician assistant who will discuss any concerns about MS and offer suggestions for special problems related to the disease including: spasticity, pain, bowel, bladder, and/or skin problems. The clinical nurse specialist or physician assistant works closely with the neurologist to carry out the individual’s care plan.
After a thorough medical history and complete physical evaluation, the Mellen Center team develops an individualized care plan to meet the patient’s specific needs. In addition to element recommended by each member of the team, a care plan may also include specific components requested by the patient, family members, or a family doctor.
Follow up visits are schedule with one of the clinical nurse specialists or physician assistants who will evaluate your current medical status and discuss treatment plans and options with you and one of the Mellen Center physicians. Additional appointment may be scheduled with a physical or occupational therapist, psychologist, or social worker if necessary. Team members meet regularly to discuss the individual’s progress and fine- tune care plans as needed. Team meetings are an effective mean to monitor the flare-ups and remissions that are characteristic of MS. Team members help patients and their families prepare for these changes.
Specialty Care Providers Who Treat This Condition