Multiple Sclerosis (MS) & Demyelinating Disorders

The multiple sclerosis (MS) program at Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) is one of the leading MS programs in Pennsylvania. We offer a variety of medical and other services to help improve your symptoms and keep you as independent as possible.

Receiving a diagnosis of MS can be overwhelming. You may be wondering what the future holds and what your treatment options are.

Where you begin your treatment can significantly impact the progression of MS. LVHN is the region’s only hospital designated as a Center for Comprehensive Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Care by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

We offer the full array of medical, psychosocial and rehabilitation services for managing MS throughout your life. We also participate in research and clinical trials to provide you with the latest and most effective treatments.

What is multiple sclerosis (MS)?

MS is a demyelinating disease of the central nervous system that can affect the brain, spinal cord or optic nerves. In MS, myelin – the fatty tissue that surrounds and protects nerve fibers – is lost, causing scar tissue to form. The damaged areas prevent the nerves from communicating with the brain.

Why choose LVHN for multiple sclerosis treatment?

When you come to LVHN, you will find:

  • Dedicated team: A fellowship-trained MS expert leads our team of neurologists and other MS specialists. We work to have a favorable impact on the course of the disease so you can remain independent and mobile as long as possible.
  • Patient education: We offer many free resources, including support groups and educational sessions. Our social worker helps connect you to local MS resources.
  • Integrated approach: We work with specialists in rehabilitation medicine, urology, urogynecology (pelvic medicine), neuropsychology, psychiatry, sleep medicine and pain management to provide care for symptoms related to MS.
  • Clinical trials: We participate in MS clinical trials, giving us experience with new treatments before they become widely available.

Multiple sclerosis symptoms

Some people experience mild symptoms. Others may lose their ability to write, speak or walk. Symptoms come and go and can last a short or long time. A flare or relapse is when new symptoms occur and last for more than 24 hours.

Common symptoms include:

  • Blurred or double vision, dizziness, color distortion, eye pain or loss of vision.
  • Pain, numbness or “pins and needles”.
  • Weakness in the hands and feet.
  • Fatigue and difficulty with coordination, walking or standing, including partial or complete paralysis, heat or cold intolerance.
  • Stiffness, tremor.
  • Bowel and bladder control problems.
  • Difficulties with speech, hearing, concentration, attention or memory, decision making.
  • Sleep disturbances.

Multiple sclerosis diagnosis

We conduct a neurological history and do an examination. We may test your movement, vision and balance.

Other neurological tests and assessments we may perform include:

  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) detects the presence of plaques or scarring.
  • Cerebrospinal fluid analysis (spinal tap or lumbar puncture) examines spinal fluid for abnormalities.
  • Blood tests help rule out other causes of your symptoms.
  • Evoked potential (EP) tests and optical coherence tomography (OCT) help to rule out and to monitor optic nerve involvement.

Multiple sclerosis treatment

There is no cure for MS, but the right treatments can help reduce the frequency of attacks and improve the course of the illness. Monitoring helps ensure that you are responding well to treatment.

Our doctors have the expertise to provide all of the newest therapies. Treatments may include:

  • Disease-modifying treatments can decrease the number of relapses and intensity of symptoms. These drugs can be injected, infused via IV (intravenous) or taken orally.
  • Steroids can help treat relapses by shortening the intensity and length of the relapse.

Neurological diagnostic services

The right diagnosis is the first step to getting the care you need for multiple sclerosis. We provide the latest, most advanced diagnostic and imaging techniques.

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Physical therapy for multiple sclerosis

Our inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation specialists develop a customized plan to help relieve symptoms of MS and help you regain your function. Our goal is to help you maintain independence and mobility.

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