Publication year: 2020
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Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an immune-mediated inflammatory disease that attacks myelinated axons in the central nervous system, destroying the myelin and the axon in variable degrees and producing significant physical disability within 20–25 years in more than 30% of patients. The hallmark of MS is symptomatic episodes that occur months or years apart and affect different anatomic locations. Also, see the Autoimmune Disorders: Making Sense of Nonspecific Symptoms slideshow to help identify several diseases that can cause a variety of nonspecific symptoms. MS is diagnosed on the basis of clinical findings and supporting evidence from ancillary tests. Treatment consists of immunomodulatory therapy for the underlying immune disorder and management of symptoms, as well as nonpharmacologic treatments, such as physical and occupational therapy. Disease-modifying therapies have shown beneficial effects in patients with relapsing MS, including reduced frequency and severity of clinical attacks. These agents appear to slow the progression of disability and the reduce accumulation of lesions within the brain and spinal cord.