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Multiple Sclerosis Health Center

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Multiple Sclerosis and Deep Brain Stimulation

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How Does Deep Brain Stimulation Help Multiple Sclerosis?

The main purpose of deep brain stimulation for people with multiple sclerosis is to control a severe tremor related to the disease. In the case of multiple sclerosis, other problems such as loss of vision, sensation, or strength are not helped by deep brain stimulation.

Can Deep Brain Stimulation Cure Multiple Sclerosis?

No. Electrical stimulation does not cure multiple sclerosis nor prevent the disease from getting worse; it helps to relieve the symptom of tremor related to MS.

Is Deep Brain Stimulation Considered Experimental?

Deep brain stimulation is not experimental. The FDA has approved DBS to treat Parkinson's disease, essential tremor, and dystonia. Dystonia is a type of movement disorder characterized by abnormal postures and twisting motions.

The FDA has not specifically approved deep brain stimulation of the thalamus to treat multiple sclerosis. However, this does not mean that the treatment is experimental or that it would not be covered by insurance. There are many examples of treatments that are used every day but have not been approved by the FDA for a specific medical condition.

Who Should Consider Deep Brain Stimulation?

There are many important issues to be addressed when considering deep brain stimulation. These issues should be discussed with a movement disorders expert or a specially trained neurologist.

Before considering surgery, you should try medication first. Surgery should not be undertaken if drugs are able to control your symptoms. However, surgery should be considered if you do not achieve satisfactory control through medications. If you are unsure if DBS is right for you, consult a movement disorders expert or a neurologist who has experience with movement disorders.

Where Should Deep Brain Stimulation Be Performed?

Deep brain stimulation should be performed in a center where there is a team of experts to care for you. This means neurologists and neurosurgeons who have extensive experience and specialized training in doing these types of surgeries. Always ask a physician how many of a specific procedure he has performed.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Richard Senelick, MD on May 31, 2015
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