As leaders in multiple sclerosis (MS) research, Duke’s physicians are paving the way for more effective treatments that can target this debilitating disease. While there is no cure for MS, our in-depth understanding of how the disease starts and progresses means we can provide you with more accurate diagnosis and effective treatment plans -- today and in the future.
Developing a Personalized Treatment Plan
Multiple sclerosis is not easy to diagnose. If you have MS, your symptoms may come and go, possibly for months at a time, and may be mild. Some symptoms may be the same as those of other conditions. Because there is no one test that can confirm if you have MS, our doctors follow a careful, strategic evaluation that involves detailed examinations, MRIs, and blood and spinal fluid analyses.
Once we confirm your diagnosis, we develop a plan to manage your symptoms using a personalized combination of medication and therapy services. Because we are at the forefront of MS research, our scientists influence how we diagnose and treat your condition.
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There is no one test that can confirm that you have multiple sclerosis. Our experts use the following strategies to determine if you meet the criteria for MS:
A thorough medical history is necessary to look for clues that tell us when your symptoms began.
A variety of tests are given to evaluate movement; coordination; balance; vision; and mental, emotional, and language functions.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
This is the best imaging test for detecting MS plaques. Though a diagnosis cannot be based on MRI alone, it may be used to confirm a diagnosis based on medical history and neurological exams.
Evoked Potentials (EPs)
EPs measure the nervous system’s electrical responses to different stimulation and can help confirm a diagnosis.
These tests may be used to rule out other conditions that have symptoms similar to MS.
Spinal Fluid Analysis (Lumbar Puncture)
This test looks for heightened levels of antibodies and certain proteins in the spinal fluid that may help point to a diagnosis.
Where you receive your care matters. Duke University Hospital is proud of our team and the exceptional care they provide. They are why our neurology and neurosurgery program is nationally ranked, and the highest ranked program in North Carolina by U.S. News & World Report for 2020–2021.
Why Choose Duke
Breakthrough MS Research
We are one of three hospitals that form the Multiple Sclerosis Genetics Group, the most comprehensive genetic study ever done for MS. Through this partnership, our researchers identified a cluster of genes believed to be largely responsible for the disorder -- a significant finding that could lead to more effective treatments.
Specialized Therapy Services
Our patients have access to comprehensive rehabilitation and therapy services at the Duke Raleigh Hospital Outpatient Rehabilitation Center. Staff members are specially trained to work one-on-one with neurology patients, including those with MS. They focus on maximizing your functional capabilities and independence.
Aggressive Treatment Approach
We take what we describe as an aggressive approach to treating MS. That means we offer new medications and therapies as soon as they become available.