MS affects over 25,600 Australians and more than two million people have been diagnosed worldwide. This chronic illness has no known cure, however there are a number of treatment options to slow the progression of the condition.

So, what is MS, how is it diagnosed and what are the symptoms? The home doctor experts at House Call Doctor have all the information you need to know.

What is MS?

MS is a condition that affects the central nervous system and interferes with nerve impulses within the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves.

There are three different types of MS, however it’s generally very difficult to predict the course and progression of the condition. These types are:

  • Relapsing-remitting (RRMS)
  • Secondary progressive (SPMS)
  • Primary progressive (PPMS).

What are the symptoms?

No two cases of MS are the same. Symptoms can appear as any combination of these five major health problems:

  • Motor control (muscles spasms and issues with weakness, coordination, and balance)
  • Fatigue
  • Other neurological symptoms (including vertigo, pins and needles and visual disturbances)
  • Continence care (including bladder incontinence and constipation)
  • Neuropsychological symptoms (including depression, cognitive difficulties, and memory loss).

Treatment and medications

The two main aims of medication for people with MS are to either ease specific symptoms or reduce the risk of relapses and disease progression. Drug treatments include:

  • Disease modifying therapies that work by modifying the immune system to slow the frequency and severity of attacks to the central nervous system.
  • Steroid medication to control the severity of an MS attack
  • Immune suppressants for people with progressive MS.


Your doctor will start by performing a neurological exam and a series of other tests to determine whether you have MS. These tests may include:

  • MRI scan
  • Optical coherence tomography (OCT)
  • Spinal tap (lumbar puncture)
  • Blood tests
  • Visual evoked potentials (VEP) test.

A diagnosis also means ruling out other conditions with similar symptoms such as Lyme disease or lupus.

To find out more, head to MS Australia.