Multiple Sclerosis (MS) | Diagnosis and Treatment

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Contact the Pediatric Multiple Sclerosis Related Disorder Program

How is MS diagnosed?

Diagnosing MS can be a challenge, since the symptoms are similar to those of many other conditions and can vary so much from person to person.

There is no one specific test to diagnose MS. Instead, it is diagnosed by using a series of exams and tests to help confirm the condition, called the MacDonald Criteria. The first step is a complete medical and family history and neurologic exam. Other tests include:

Your clinician may also perform tests to rule out other conditions.

What medications are used to treat MS?

Although there is no cure for MS, medications can help control the symptoms of MS and slow down the progression of the disease. These medications include:

  • Steroids: These medications can reduce inflammation in the brain and spinal cord during attacks of MS. This helps shorten the attacks and reduce their severity.
  • Disease-modifying medications: These medications help prevent new attacks and reduce their severity. They can also help slow the progression of the disease. 

Are there other treatments for MS?

Medication is just one part of your child's treatment program. Some children with MS may also need physical and occupational therapy to increase mobility and muscle strength and to learn ways to make day-to-day activities easier on their bodies. And because chronic illnesses can be tough to deal with, psychotherapy or counseling can be valuable in helping kids keep a positive outlook.

Expert care for MS

Because multiple sclerosis is traditionally seen as an adult condition, there is still a lot that needs to be learned about how MS affects children. Mark Gorman, MD, director of our Pediatric Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders Program, is actively engaged in clinical research to learn about the disease in children and to develop new treatments.

We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”
- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO

Boston Children's Hospital 300 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115 617-355-6000 | 800-355-7944

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