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Recognized expert MS care
Multiple Sclerosis is a disease of the immune system where the body mistakenly attacks the nerves and their protective coverings. MS is a recurrent condition that can be difficult to predict early on. The severity of symptoms and how the disease progresses is different for everyone.
At UW Health, we know how to diagnose MS early, which can improve your health. We partner with you to manage your care throughout your lifetime. You play a key part in every medical decision about your care.
Our program is designated as a Center for Comprehensive MS Care by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS), as well as a recognized Partner in MS Care with this organization.
Symptoms and diagnosis
Symptoms of multiple sclerosis
The symptoms of MS can vary and they might come and go. Symptoms include:
Muscle weakness, muscle spasms
Numbness and tingling or pain
Poor memory or concentration
Problems with bladder and bowel control
Sexual functioning problems
Slurred speech and difficulty with verbal communication
Diagnosing your condition
MS can be hard to diagnose. Many of the symptoms are similar to other conditions, and they can come and go over time. Most people are diagnosed with MS between the ages of 20 and 50. The condition is more common in women than men.
There are no specific tests that confirm the presence of MS and rule out other related diseases. Doctors make a diagnosis by putting together multiple pieces of a puzzle.
Types of MS
There are four types of MS:
This is the most common form of MS. You experience clear attacks. You make a full or partial recovery after each episode. Your MS does not get worse between attacks.
This type of MS gets worse over time. You might notice small improvements. You experience symptoms most of the time.
This type of MS starts as relapsing and then often many years later there is slow worsening, or progression of old symptoms. Secondary progressive MS can occur with or without attacks.
This form of MS has continued worsening over time, as well as more acute attacks from which you might or might not recover.
Treatments and research
Care plans for a long life
You will need different types of care for MS at different times, but you can expect to live a long life. The treatments you get also depend on the type of MS you are living with.
Medicines for MS
Medicines are available to reduce the effects of MS and to treat sudden flare-ups. They include:
Decrease the immune system’s attacks on the nerves and their covering. These medicines decrease damage and attacks over time. There are more than a dozen of these medications available, and we can help pick the right one for you.
Used for short periods to treat sudden attacks.
Managing your symptoms
It’s important for you to listen to your body to manage your symptoms. This helps you gain more control over your condition. There are many medicines to help manage many of the symptoms of MS, including things like spasms, pain, fatigue or bladder complaints.
You can also manage symptoms with:
Attention to environmental factors such as heat
Diet, exercise and rest
Physical and occupational therapies
Adaptive devices such as ankle brace, cane or wheelchair
At UW Health, you are an equal partner with your care team. The best treatment for you depends on your condition and preferences. Our Shared Decision-Making Model consists of these treatment options:
If your MS symptoms are mild, you might not need treatment right away. Your doctor will monitor your health with regular check-ups.
DMT medicines can reduce the frequency of attacks. There are over a dozen of these medicines. Your doctor will help you find the right one for you.
New treatments are being tested in clinical trials. You might be able to try these by taking part in a study.
Your UW Health doctor can refer you to our MS clinic. The clinic provides all the care you need in one place. During these visits you also can see a neuropsychologist, a social worker and our MS advanced practice provider.
Meet our team
Comprehensive, expert care
Your MS care team includes doctors, advanced practice providers, MS nurses, clinical pharmacists and social workers with expertise in treating conditions of the nerves and the nervous system.
We also partner with nutritionists, occupational and physical therapists, urologists, mental health providers, physical medicine and rehabilitation experts and many others to help you live successfully with MS.
Patient and support services
Local and national support
The MS program at UW Health is a National Multiple Sclerosis Society Comprehensive Care Center. In 2019, we were the only care system in Wisconsin to receive the society’s Excellence in Healthcare Award.
When you come to UW Health for MS care, we surround and connect you and your family with support and value the relationship we develop with you over time You can access additional resources and information from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
Full range of care, convenient location
The doctors and nurses at the UW Health MS clinic, located in the K unit at University Hospital, provide a full range of care for MS patients in Madison.