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Multiple Sclerosis: Questions About What to Expect - Topic Overview

Finding out that you have multiple sclerosis (MS) can be frightening. Even if you know a lot about MS, it is hard to predict how the disease will affect you. Some questions you might ask include the following:

  • Will I have to use a wheelchair? MS affects how nerves in your brain and spinal cord communicate with each other. If your MS attacks the nerves that control your muscles (especially in your hips, legs, or feet), you may have to use a wheelchair during a relapse. More advanced symptoms can include stiff, mechanical movements or uncontrollable shaking which may make walking difficult. A wheelchair may be needed some or all of the time.
  • How will my MS develop? Some people will have wide fluctuations in symptoms and a modest degree of disability; a small number will have a mild disability that gradually disappears; some will become incapacitated. A few people report that they have such subtle symptoms, they are hardly bothered by the disease.
  • Can I have children? MS usually does not affect your ability to have children, although it can cause some problems with sexual function. New mothers are at increased risk for relapses 3 to 6 months after delivery, which can pose problems in caring for the newborn. Pregnancy does not affect the long-term outcome of the disease.
  • Will I lose my mind and be unable to think?Cognitive impairment (changes in thinking ability) may appear after many years, although you may sense subtle changes early on. Depression may accompany MS but can usually be treated with medicines and counseling. It is impossible to predict whether mental changes will occur.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: March 12, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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