Andrew Wilner, MD: Multiple sclerosis is a disease of the nervous system that affects the brain and spinal cord. It affects approximately 350,000 Americans and more than two million people worldwide. The good news is we now have many medications for the treatment of multiple sclerosis.
Andrew Wilner, MD: The purpose of these medicines is to decrease relapses or exacerbations or attacks.
Andrew Wilner, MD (cont.): A relapse is defined as a sudden onset of new symptoms such as visual loss, weakness, numbness, tingling, a tremor that lasts more than 24 hours.
Andrew Wilner, MD (cont.): A relapse can also be a sudden worsening of symptoms such as a tremor that had always been there but suddenly becomes much worse.
Andrew Wilner, MD: So if you’re taking one of these medications, you will be followed by your neurologist very closely to see if you have any more relapse.
Andrew Wilner, MD (cont.): And certainly, if you have new symptoms, you should report these and be reevaluated.
Andrew Wilner, MD: The other way to check to see if your medications are working is for your neurologist to do periodic MRIs, say, every six months or every year, because sometimes, inflammation in the brain will occur without any clinical symptoms.
Andrew Wilner, MD (cont.): So you may feel fine, but there may be an area in your brain, for example, that we can see on MRI.
Andrew Wilner, MD: So the best way to monitor for effectiveness of the new medications is periodic clinical examination and MRI scans.