Multiple Sclerosis Doctors
Multiple sclerosis (MS) can affect many different parts of the
body. Managing it typically involves a team of doctors and healthcare professionals.
They will work closely with you to determine the best course of care. The MS
team typically includes:
- primary care
- social worker
- speech-language pathologist
Primary Care Physician
If you are having any symptoms of
MS, you will first see your family doctor or primary care physician. After an
exam and medical history review, your doctor may refer you to a neurologist.
A neurologist is a physician who specializes in diseases of the
nervous system. You will find neurologists in private practice, in
community-based MS centers, in academic settings, and in general clinical
settings. A neurologist will be involved in testing, diagnosis, treatment, and
Before your appointment with a neurologist, it is a good idea to
write down a few things.
Information to Have Handy
A neurologist will ask many questions. This will help to make an accurate
diagnosis. Having the answers ready will help with the process. Some questions
you will be asked include:
- What are your
- When did they
- Are they
constant or do they come and go?
- What makes your
- What makes them
- How severe are
- Does anyone in
your family have MS?
- What other
medical conditions do you have?
- What medications
do you take?
Questions to Ask
In addition to having information ready, write down questions you
would like the doctor to answer for you. Some things you might want to ask
- Do you think I
- How will we know
- Is there a test?
- What else might
be causing my symptoms?
- Can this be
- Will it go away?
- Is it going to
- What do you
A neuropsychologist will help you manage your mental function. MS
can cause difficulties with memory, focus, information processing, and problem
solving. A neuropsychologist might teach you exercises to help maintain and
improve mental function.
A clinical nurse specialist, nurse practitioner, or registered
nurse might be involved in your care. These professionals have advanced
training and can help you in many areas including:
- adjusting to
assessment and management of symptoms
general good health
- monitoring side
with the healthcare team
A social worker is trained to assist you in identifying and
accessing community services programs, resources, and entitlements. Social
workers are also trained to provide counseling and emotional support, along
with crisis intervention.
A psychologist can diagnose
and treat issues related to mental health such as depression, which is common
in MS. Interventions can include specialized testing and ongoing counseling and
support for you and your family.
A physiatrist is a physician who specializes in rehabilitation
medicine. A physiatrist will design a treatment plan to help you function at
the highest level possible. This may include exercise and assistive devices as
well as medication. The goal is to give you the highest possible quality of
Physical therapists (PTs) treat problems involving balance,
coordination, strength, and mobility. A PT will help you strengthen muscles,
teach the appropriate use of rehabilitation equipment and mobility devices,
measure for and apply braces and other orthotic supports, and help you maintain
a fitness-oriented lifestyle. Physical therapists help you find the balance
between exercise and fatigue. The assessment by a PT includes muscle strength,
range of motion, proprioception (the perception of your location in space—is
the toe up or down, for example), muscle tone, gait, balance, transfers, and
An occupational therapist (OT) will help you stay productive,
safe, and independent in your home and work environments. This may involve
modifications of your space, such as bathrooms, kitchens, entrances, stairways,
and cars. They can also help you develop strategies to simplify jobs and
A dietician or nutritionist will help you maintain a healthy diet.
There is no diet specific to MS, but eating healthy will help you stay healthy.
A dietician can teach you to prepare healthy meals that can help with weight
management and reduce fatigue and constipation. A dietician can also help with
any swallowing problems that an MS patient develops.
A speech-language pathologist
(SLP) can help if you have problems with breathing, swallowing, speech, and
cognition. In the case of swallowing problems, the SLP will work with the
physical therapist and dietician to help you learn to eat safely. If you are
having speech difficulties, the SLP will help you with speech production and
clarity so that you can continue to communicate effectively.
A recreational therapist (RT) will help you find diverse
activities appropriate to your level of function. This will help improve your
quality of life. Activities such as swimming, yoga, tai chi, hippotherapy
(horseback riding), meditation, and other fitness programs have been found
beneficial in managing MS. Reading, computer use, board games, and other
mind-stimulating programs are very important for recreation with others and for