Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease where the body's immune system attacks its own tissues, specifically the central nervous system. In humans, the nervous system is made up of the brain, spinal cord and nerves.

MS is a chronic and often disabling disease where symptoms vary greatly from person to person; they can be mild, such as numbness in the limbs, or severe, such as paralysis or loss of vision.

Multiple Sclerosis: What You Need to Know


At The University of Vermont Medical Center, our physicians and other support staff work together as a team, providing expert multiple sclerosis care. You're the expert on your body. We also partner with you to optimize your MS diagnosis and treatment.

Experienced, Trusted Expertise

Vermont has a high rate of multiple sclerosis, and at The UVM Medical Center we are fortunate to have nationally recognized physicians who specialize in multiple sclerosis care and are on the cutting-edge of new developments in treating MS.

What is Multiple Sclerosis?

A healthy immune system attacks foreign invaders such as viruses or bacteria. In MS patients, their immune system attacks the protective sheath that covers the nerves called myelin in the brain and spinal cord.

The exact cause of multiple sclerosis is unknown, but several factors can increase your risk of developing it, including:

  • Age - the risk is highest for those between the ages of 20 and 40
  • Gender - females are about twice as likely to develop MS
  • Family history - parent, brother or sister with MS
  • Viral infections such as Epstein-Barr virus, the virus that causes infectious mononucleosis
  • Race - whites of northern European ancestry have the highest risk
  • Living in a country with a temperate climate such as those in Europe, southern Canada, northern United States, New Zealand and southeastern Australia
  • Other autoimmune diseases such as:
    • Thyroid disease
    • Type 1 diabetes
    • Inflammatory bowel disease

Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms

MS symptoms can vary widely with the affected nerves, but can include:

  • Limb numbness or weakness usually on one side or the other of the body or the top or the bottom half of the body
  • Partial or complete loss of vision usually in one eye or the other, and with eye movement pain
  • Double or blurry vision
  • Body tingling or pain
  • Electric-shock feelings that occur with certain head movements
  • Tremor, lack of coordination or unsteady walking
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness

Multiple Sclerosis Diagnosis and Treatment

The MS treatment that is right for you will depend upon your exact diagnosis.

The UVM Medical Center's physicians are highly trained and specialize in diagnosing and treating multiple sclerosis. Our knowledgeable doctors use advanced technology to treat multiple sclerosis on a regular basis.

Learn more about multiple sclerosis treatment.

Find a doctor or specialist at The UVM Medical Center or call 802-847-4589.