More than 900,000 adults in the United States are living with multiple sclerosis, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
The multiple sclerosis and general neurology division at the University of Florida College of Medicine provides outstanding clinical care and research to give patients access to the latest clinical trials and translational research studies. We sat down with Mayra Montalvo Perero, MD, to discuss the most common questions about multiple sclerosis. Dr. Montalvo Perero is a board-certified neurologist, neurophysiologist and neuroimmunologist at the Norman Fixel Institute for Neurological Disease at UF Health. She also serves as an assistant professor in the UF Department of Neurology.
What is multiple sclerosis?
Multiple sclerosis, or MS, is a condition characterized by inflammation and damage to the protective covering of nerve fibers in the central nervous system.
What are common symptoms of MS?
Some common symptoms of MS are:
- Optic neuritis (painful vision loss and color desaturation in one eye that can last from days to weeks)
- Numbness or weakness in half the body, usually in the arm or leg
- Numbness or weakness in both feet that travels up to the waist or thorax
- Bladder dysfunction
- Muscle spasms
- Double vision that improves when covering one eye (can last from days to weeks)
- Imbalance or dizziness
- Trigeminal neuralgia (facial pain)
- Lhermitte’s sign (shock of pain or electricity throughout the body when bending the neck)
When should a patient seek medical care if they are experiencing symptoms?
If a patient is experiencing any of the symptoms described above, they should seek immediate medical care.
What tests are involved in getting an MS diagnosis?
An MRI of the brain and spinal cord are the first tests before a diagnosis. In some cases, a spinal tap is needed. The diagnosis, at times, can be lengthy and difficult, so each patient should be evaluated by a neurologist to make the diagnosis.
What is the life expectancy of someone with MS?
The life expectancy of someone with MS may be 5 to 10 years shorter than the normal population. With new therapies and management of the disease, this gap is getting smaller.
Are there doctors who specialize in multiple sclerosis?
Yes! Following medical school, doctors that specialize in MS complete a four-year residency in neurology and a one-year fellowship in neuroimmunology. UF Health has multiple MS specialists. To schedule an appointment with one of our MS specialists, call us at (352) 294-5400.