Neurosciences Institute
Multiple sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis

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Your quality of life is our first concern when treating multiple sclerosis 

At Novant Health our services are designed to help people living with multiple sclerosis (MS) and their families enjoy the best quality of life possible. We offer nursing care, physical and speech therapy, mental health services, as well as assistance from social workers when needed.

Our philosophy

MS is unpredictable. Our goal is to give you more stability. We have treatments available for MS and other neurological conditions that can prevent nerve damage, disability and sometimes debilitating symptoms. Most of all, we want to get you back to the daily activities that are the focus of your life.

MS National Society logo

That is why we work hard to provide quality service tailored to your needs, and we are pleased to be recognized by the National MS Society as a Partner in MS Care center. The National MS Society recognizes and supports quality MS care by encouraging strong partnerships between MS clinicians.

Learn how this new designation can benefit you

Our team

We rely on a team approach, which allows us to blend the expertise of many different specialties to provide you with comprehensive care. Our team includes neurologists, neuropsychologists, and physical and speech therapists who work together to provide high-quality care.

Our services

  • Infusions
  • Physical therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Speech therapy
  • Spasticity management
  • Counseling and support for mental health and wellness
  • Social work for help identifying community resources

We welcome referrals for these conditions

    • Multiple sclerosis
    • Neuromyelitis Optica (NMO, NMO spectrum disorder, formerly Devic’s Disease)
    • Acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM)
    • Transverse myelitis
    • Optic neuritis
    • Chronic relapsing inflammatory optic neuritis (CRION)
    • Neurosarcoidosis
    • NMDA receptor encephalitis
    • Paraneoplastic syndromes of the CNS
    • Primary CNS vasculitis
    • For intrathecal baclofen (ITB) pumps and spasticity

What is MS?

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune condition that affects the central nervous system (CNS), which includes the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves. With MS, the immune system treats the central nervous system as a foreign object. This causes the immune system to attack myelin, which is a protective layer around our nerves that helps them to respond quickly and accurately. If damage to myelin is severe, the underlying nerve can be permanently injured or destroyed.

Who gets MS?

While the cause of MS is unknown, more than 2.3 million people around the world — nearly 450,000 in the U.S. — suffer from MS, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. In North and South Carolina, about 1 in 800 people live with MS. It isn't believed to be inherited, although having family members with MS may increase your risk. It's more common in people of northern European descent.

MS is linked to smoking, as well as viruses such as the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), which causes mononucleosis (mono). It affects two to three times more women than men. The average age of onset is the early 30's, although it may be diagnosed during childhood or in adults in their 60's and beyond. Ironically, it has also been linked to people who have a deficiency of vitamin D.

How is MS diagnosed?

There is no single test for MS. We look at medical history and use tools such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to give us information. Blood work, a neurological exam and sometimes cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) studies, also known as a “spinal tap,” may be used to diagnose MS.

What should I expect during my first visit?

The first visit will last 90 minutes and includes a comprehensive history and neurological examination. We'll review your lab work and MRI images with you to better explain your diagnosis of MS, treatment options and next steps. Follow up visits will last 30 minutes. Please arrive 30 minutes early for all visits so we may complete your pre-visit testing.

How do you treat MS?

MS has no cure. Fortunately, new therapies are available that can limit the damage it causes. These treatments are also more effective at slowing the progression of MS compared to some earlier medications. There are also new ways to reduce the severity of symptoms. These include medications, therapy, counseling, fitness programs and more.

Common symptoms include:
    • Fatigue
    • Difficulty with thinking and memory
    • Numbness or tingling in your limbs or other areas of the body
    • Imbalance
    • Difficulty walking
    • Urinary dysfunction
    • Bowel dysfunction
    • Sexual dysfunction
    • Muscle pain, stiffness, cramps or spasms
    • Depression, anxiety and mood changes
    • Weakness
    • Vision loss
    • Double vision