It is normal to have questions and concerns if you have multiple sclerosis, or MS. This autoimmune disease causes your body’s immune system to destroy myelin, a fatty substance that protects nerve fibers in the brain and spinal cord. Over time, nerve exposure and damage can lead to muscle weakness, vision loss, tremors, slurred speech, and shock-like sensations.
Our multiple sclerosis experts at MUSC Health ensure that you receive the proper diagnosis and care. We help you maintain maximum independence through a variety of therapies.
Multiple Sclerosis Services at MUSC Health: Why Choose Us?
When you come to MUSC Health for multiple sclerosis care and treatment, you benefit from:
- Advanced Diagnostic Services: Diagnosing MS is challenging. Sometimes people discover that a disorder other than MS is causing their symptoms. Our doctors are experts at using the most advanced technology to distinguish MS from similar diseases, so you get the treatment you need.
- Care for Complex Cases: Our doctors have special expertise in caring for people who have more than one autoimmune disease, such as MS and lupus or MS and myasthenia gravis. We provide coordinated, customized treatment for your unique situation.
- Teamwork: Because MS affects a range of functions, you receive care from a team of experts who have specialized training in MS. In addition to neurology experts, team members may include neuro-ophthalmologists, urologists, gastroenterologists, social workers and dietitians. Our team works together to develop a plan that meets your needs. Meet your team.
- Customized Treatments: Our team takes into consideration your physical, emotional and cognitive needs. We work with you and your loved ones to ensure your treatment plan is one that you can easily implement and stick to for the long term.
- Innovative Therapies: As the state’s only academic medical center, our doctors actively participate in clinical trials and research. We are dedicated to finding better diagnostic methods and treatments for MS. Talk to your doctor to find out if you are eligible for a clinical trial.
- Convenience: In addition to our main campus in downtown Charleston, we also provide care for people with multiple sclerosis at our Mount Pleasant clinic. See our clinic locations.
- Concierge Services: Our guest services staff is here to help with travel and lodging arrangements or other needs
Diagnosing Multiple Sclerosis at MUSC Health
There is no definitive test for MS. It is not uncommon for people who come to our MS Clinic to learn that they have a different disorder and not MS. A precise diagnosis is the first step to creating your treatment plan.
At MUSC Health, our doctors use the latest diagnostic tools to ensure you receive an accurate diagnosis. Advanced diagnostic services at MUSC Health include:
- Optical coherence testing (OCT)
- Evoked potentials (EP)
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- Cerebrospinal fluid analysis
MS can inflame optic nerves and cause blurred vision, blindness or dark spots. Optical coherence testing, or OCT, is an innovative, painless imaging tool that enables our doctors to view the retinal nerve at the back of the eye. Fiber layers on the retinal nerves tend to look different in people who have MS even when there is no history of vision problems.
To check for MS and other conditions, you will undergo a visual evoked potentials test in our highly accredited neurophysiology lab. This test checks for impaired transmission along the optic nerve pathways. Learn more about sensory evoked potentials studies.
This scan of the brain and spinal cord reveals lesions on the central nervous system that may indicate MS. MRIs can aid the diagnosis of MS and track disease progression.
Cerebrospinal fluid is a clear liquid that bathes the spinal cord and brain. People with MS may have elevated levels of antibodies and proteins in this fluid. During a lumbar puncture, or spinal tap, your doctor numbs your lower back with an anesthetic and removes a small amount of fluid for testing. This test helps rule out infections and other conditions that mimic MS.
Multiple Sclerosis Treatments at MUSC Health
Although MS is not curable, certain medications and therapies can alleviate symptoms, slow disease progression and help you maintain independence. Our comprehensive MS Clinic offers more treatment options than any other medical center in South Carolina.
MS therapies at MUSC Health include:
- Medications: Disease-modifying medications reduce the severity and frequency of MS attacks or relapses while slowing the accumulation of brain and spinal cord lesions. Steroids can reduce nerve inflammation.
- Rehabilitation Services: Specialists in our occupational therapy neurological rehabilitation program help you maintain function and independence.
Emotional Support: Our neuropsychologists and mental health experts help you cope with depression or anxiety.
To learn more about the Multiple Sclerosis Clinic at MUSC Health or to schedule an appointment, please call 843-792-3223.