Finding out that you have
multiple sclerosis (MS) can be frightening. Even if
you know a lot about MS, it is hard to predict how the disease will affect you.
Some questions you might ask include the following:
Will I have to use a wheelchair? MS affects how nerves in your brain and spinal cord
communicate with each other. If your MS attacks the nerves that control your
muscles (especially in your hips, legs, or feet), you may have to use a
wheelchair during a relapse. More advanced symptoms can include stiff,
mechanical movements or uncontrollable shaking which may make walking
difficult. A wheelchair may be needed some or all of the
How will my MS develop? Some people
will have wide fluctuations in symptoms and a modest degree of disability; a
small number will have a mild disability that gradually disappears; some will
become incapacitated. A few people report that they have such subtle
symptoms, they are hardly bothered by the disease.
Can I have children? MS usually does not affect your ability
to have children, although it can cause some problems with sexual function. New
mothers are at increased risk for relapses 3 to 6 months after delivery, which
can pose problems in caring for the newborn. Pregnancy does not affect the
long-term outcome of the disease.
Will I lose my mind and be unable to think?Cognitive impairment (changes in thinking ability) may
appear after many years, although you may sense subtle changes early on.
Depression may accompany MS but can usually be treated
with medicines and
counselling. It is impossible to predict whether mental
changes will occur.
ByHealthwise Staff Primary Medical ReviewerAdam Husney, MD - Family Medicine Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine Andrew Swan, MD, CCFP, FCFP - Family Medicine Specialist Medical ReviewerBarrie J. Hurwitz, MD - Neurology