Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic disease that occurs when the immune system attacks a substance called myelin in nervous system cells. Multiple sclerosis symptoms include weakness, numbness, and tingling in one or more of the limbs; vision loss; uncontrollable movements; dizziness; and fatigue.

During early stages of the disease, symptoms of MS often occur, disappear completely for a time, and then return again. There is no cure for MS and the condition can become increasingly debilitating over time. MS treatment varies depending on the type and severity of symptoms and usually includes medications.

Here are some questions to ask your doctor (e.g., neurologist) about multiple sclerosis. Print this page, check off the questions you would like answered, and take it with you to your doctor appointment. The more knowledge you have about multiple sclerosis, the easier it will be to make important decisions about your treatment and medical care.

Questions to Ask Your Doctor about Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

  • What is multiple sclerosis (MS)?
  • What are possible multiple sclerosis causes?
  • What other conditions can cause multiple sclerosis symptoms?
  • Why do you suspect that I have multiple sclerosis?
  • How will my condition be diagnosed? What types of examinations and tests will be performed?
  • What do tests to diagnose MS involve?
  • How should I prepare for these exams and tests?
  • Are there any risks associated with these tests?
  • Once multiple sclerosis has been diagnosed, what types of tests might I need to have on a regular basis?
  • What type of MS do I have?
  • How severe is my current condition?
  • What is the usual prognosis for people who have this type of MS?
  • How do you expect my condition to progress?
  • How might MS affect my daily life?
  • What type of treatment do you recommend?
  • Why do you recommend this particular course of treatment?
  • Should I seek a second opinion? Why or why not?
  • Might lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise, help slow or stop the progression of my multiple sclerosis? If so, what changes do you recommend?
  • What support resources are available to help me change my lifestyle?
    Practice/Therapist: Telephone number to call:
  • Is it possible to reverse the effects of MS?
  • Will medication(s) be used to treat my condition?
  • What are the benefits, risks, and possible side effects from these medications?
  • What should I do if I experience serious side effects?
    Telephone number to call:
  • About how long might it take for my MS treatments to begin working?
  • How will my condition be monitored? Are there any warning signs I should look for?
  • What should I do if my symptoms worsen or these warning signs develop?
    Telephone number to call:
  • Might physical and/or occupational therapy help me to manage my MS symptoms?
    Practice/Therapist: Telephone number to call:
  • What should I do if I have trouble performing daily tasks and normal activities?
    Telephone number to call:
  • What other therapies might help me manage my MS symptoms?
  • Are there any local support groups for people with MS?
  • Are there any support groups for family members and caregivers?
  • Can you recommend resources for more information about MS?

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 25 May 2009

Last Modified: 25 Sep 2015