Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a progressive autoimmune disease that affects the body’s nervous system. When the immune system attacks your nerves, you may experience a wide range of symptoms, including pain, fatigue, and vision problems.
At Allegheny Health Network (AHN) Neuroscience Institute, a team of physicians, nurses, and support specialists — all with multiple sclerosis expertise — work together to support you in your care. We prescribe the latest medications to manage your symptoms and coordinate rehabilitative care such as physical therapy to help you retain your abilities over your lifetime.
People may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may come and go, or gradually worsen over time.
Common signs of multiple sclerosis include:
- Extreme fatigue
- Numbness or tingling sensations on your face, body, arms, or legs
- Dizziness or balance problems (vertigo)
- Muscle stiffness or weakness, possibly leading to walking difficulties
- Vision problems, such as blurred vision, eye pain, or double vision
- Bladder or bowel problems, such as urine leakage (incontinence) or constipation
- Cognitive challenges, such as memory loss
At AHN, our physicians have many years of experience diagnosing the spectrum of MS symptoms. First, a physician will perform a thorough neurological examination.
To learn more about what’s causing your symptoms (and possibly rule out other diseases), we may recommend one or more tests, including:
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): This test produces detailed images of internal organs and structures. Physicians may use this test to look for other potential causes of your symptoms. If you have MS, it’s likely an MRI will show abnormal findings.
- Lumbar puncture: This test, also called a spinal tap, evaluates the cerebrospinal fluid surrounding your brain and spinal cord. We insert a needle into your lumbar area (small of your back) to remove the fluid.
- Blood tests: Tests measuring different substances in your blood can help your physician rule out other diseases or conditions.
There is no cure for multiple sclerosis. The goal of treatment is to help you manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life. Your care team will develop a treatment plan that meets your needs.
Your care plan may include:
- Medication: Certain medications slow disease progression, while others help manage your symptoms. These medications may be oral, injected (shots), or infused (delivered through an IV). We participate in research efforts that pursue new multiple sclerosis treatments. We can often offer promising treatments, such as novel medications, before they are widely available.
- Physical therapy: Exercises can strengthen muscles and help you complete daily activities more easily. Our knowledgeable, caring physical therapists tailor a physical therapy plan to your needs.
- Occupational therapy: Trained occupational therapists can help you relearn how to complete daily activities that have become difficult, enhancing your independence at home or work.
- Speech therapy: Dedicated speech therapists help you address symptoms that make it difficult to talk or swallow.
- Cognitive therapy: Psychotherapy addresses cognitive challenges, such as how you think, reason, and remember.
Call (412) 359-8860 or request an appointment to learn more about AHN neuroscience services.
AHN Multiple Sclerosis Treatment Center
Allegheny General Hospital
420 East North Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15212