Multiple Sclerosis (MS) | Diagnosis & Treatments

How is multiple sclerosis diagnosed?

Diagnosing multiple sclerosis (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. MRI criteria, called the MacDonald Criteria, can be very helpful in making the diagnosis. The first step is a complete medical and family history and neurologic exam. Your clinician may also perform tests to rule out other conditions. Tests might include:

What medications are used to treat multiple sclerosis?

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 multiple sclerosis?

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. There are many other treatments available to help with symptoms as needed.

Expert care for multiple sclerosis

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. Our team in the Pediatric Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders Program, is actively engaged in clinical research to learn about the disease in children, develop new treatments, and improve quality of life.