It is important to maintain frequent examinations in patients with multiple sclerosis in order to determine the progression of the disease as well as to ascertain the effectiveness of any treatments being used. MS is a disease of remission, relapse, and progression, making frequent monitoring key to a patient's quality of life when dealing with the effects of this often debilitating disease. Even when in remission and no symptoms are present, it is important to monitor potential progression of MS.
Benefits of Monitoring the Progress of MS
It is important to maintain appointments with your MS treatment provider when dealing with multiple sclerosis, even when you do not experience much in the way of symptoms. This is because changes affecting the brain and nerves may begin well before symptoms actually present themselves. This can be important in determining the effectiveness of any medications used to treat any underlying causes of MS or in medications that are being used to slow the progression of the disease. Early detection of any changes can help your treatment provider reduce associated symptoms.
Monitoring MS Treatments
While monitoring the progression of the disease itself is of utmost important for those suffering with MS, it is also important to monitor any treatments being used to treat MS or its symptoms. Medications can affect the body and result in negative side effects that may not present themselves with symptoms but may cause damage or changes in other systems in the body over time. Kidney, liver, and immune system function are frequently affected by MS medications, making it important to get regular examinations to be sure these medications are not causing additional harm to the body.
Examinations and Tests to Monitor the Progress of MS
Regular examinations with the doctor are necessary to discuss current medical treatment effectiveness and any symptoms that may be experienced. MRI is useful in determining an increase in lesions and potential severity of these lesions. Those in remission from MS symptoms should still receive diagnostic MRI scans every year to monitor disease progression and continued treatment effectiveness. Optical coherence tomography (OCT) has been shown to be effective in detecting changes in nerve tissue in the retina which may relate to nerve changes in other areas of the body in relation to MS progression. Blood tests may be recommended to detect inflammation levels and other indicators of increased MS activity in the body. Nerve tests might also be considered to determine if further damage to nerves is occurring.