Overview and diagnosis of multiple sclerosis

Am J Manag Care. 2016 Jun;22(6 Suppl):s141-50.


Multiple sclerosis (MS), a chronic inflammatory disease of unknown etiology, involves an immunemediated attack of the central nervous system (CNS) that produces demyelination and axonal/neuronal damage, resulting in characteristic multifocal lesions apparent on magnetic resonance imaging and a variety of neurologic manifestations. The disease pathology is characterized by multifocal lesions within the CNS, in both the white matter and gray matter, with perivenular inflammatory cell infiltrates, demyelination, axonal transection, neuronal degeneration, and gliosis. MS pathogenesis is complex, as it involves both T- and B-cell mechanisms and is heterogeneous in presentation. Relatively recently, the historical 4 core clinical categories of MS were revised in an effort to improve characterization of the clinical course, better identify where a given patient is positioned in the disease spectrum, and to guide clinical studies. In young and middle-aged adults, MS is one of the most common contributors to neurologic disability, and it exerts detrimental effects on a patient's productivity and health-related quality of life. Typically, patients with MS have a long life span, although healthcare utilization increases over time. As a consequence, the disease places a substantial burden on patients and their caregivers/families, as well as employers, the healthcare system, and society.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / administration & dosage*
  • Adult
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Disease Progression
  • Exercise Therapy / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Monitoring, Physiologic / methods
  • Multiple Sclerosis / diagnosis*
  • Multiple Sclerosis / therapy
  • Physical Examination / methods*
  • Prognosis
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones