Multiple Sclerosis Program
Multiple sclerosis (MS) causes a variety of symptoms that can look and feel different in each individual. The most common symptoms are: difficulty walking, impaired vision, numbness, bladder or bowel dysfunction, fatigue and dizziness or imbalance.
Our UCI Health multiple sclerosis specialists are experts at diagnosing and managing MS, as well as related central nervous system (CNS) disorders. We work with each patient to develop a personalized treatment plan. We also specialize in diagnosing and treating other neuro-autoimmune disorders, such as neuromyelitis optica, transverse myelitis and neuro-sarcoidosis.
The National Multiple Sclerosis Society has designated UCI Health as Comprehensive Multiple Sclerosis Care Center, one of only a few such centers in California. Our award-winning Multiple Sclerosis Research Center is home to top MS investigators and it provides our patients with access to clinical trials of new medications and treatments not generally available elsewhere.
Our goal is to affect real change in outcomes and to improve the lives of our patients living with these conditions.
For more information or to schedule a consultation, call 949-824-8600.
While no definitive tests exist yet to determine whether a person has multiple sclerosis, the experts at the UCI Health Multiple Sclerosis Program have developed a multi-step approach to diagnosis and treatment.
Our diagnostic tools include:
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) — to detect changes or damage in the brain or spinal cord
- Optical coherence tomography — a noninvasive test to examine the the axons of the optic nerve in the retinal nerve fiber layer
- Magnetic resonance spectroscopy
- Nuclear medicine
Evoked potentials (EP) tests
These tests measure electrical activity in the brain as it responds to stimulation of sensory pathways that control vision, hearing and touch. They can detect subtle slowing of electrical conduction caused by damage — or demyelination — along these pathways.
Diagnostic laboratory tests
Cerebrospinal fluid is tested for signs of an abnormal immune system response within the central nervous system, including:
- Elevated levels of IgG antibodies
- Proteins called oligoclonal bands
Other diseases can produce a similar abnormal immune system response. The test is one of many our specialists may use to confirm the diagnosis.
Blood and urine tests are also performed to help rule out other conditions with symptoms similar to MS.
Learn whether your insurance plan is one of the many accepted by UCI Health ›
Our neurologists are dedicated to developing new ways to treat patients with MS and other neuro-autoimmune disorders.
Our treatment approaches include:
- Symptomatic therapies to alleviate the effects on the central nervous system, such as bladder urgency, numbness, a burning or prickling sensation, gait or balance difficulty, and chronic nerve pain
- Physical therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Cognitive therapy
- Rehabilitation activities
- Lifestyle changes, including diet/nutrition and exercise
We also offer our patients the opportunity to participate in ongoing clinical trials.
In recognition of our superior and innovative patient care, the UCI Health Multiple Sclerosis Program has the distinction of being named an official Center for MS Comprehensive Care by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society — one of only a few such programs in California to receive this designation.
UC Irvine also is home to the Multiple Sclerosis Research Center, which is one of only 15 MS research centers across the nation to be recognized by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society for its scientific efforts to find a cure for MS. The center, which includes physicians and scientists from the School of Medicine and the School of Biological Sciences, helps us provide our patients access to the most innovative new therapies.
We also offer leading-edge testing and imaging for this hard-to-diagnose disease, including:
- Evoked potentials testing
- Tests of cerebrospinal fluid, blood and urine
- Specialized imaging tests
Our MS program has a long and distinguished history in Orange County. It was founded by the late Dr. Stanley van den Noort, a pioneer in multiple sclerosis education, research and patient care. As former dean of the UCI Health School of Medicine, van den Noort played an integral role in helping the school become a nationally ranked and respected institution. He also personally touched the lives of many individuals with multiple sclerosis during his nearly 40-year association with UC Irvine.
Our dedicated MS specialists carry on that legacy today. Among them are physicians who have been recognized for excellence by their peers in Orange County.
The scientists of our award-winning Multiple Sclerosis Research Center are searching diligently for the cause of multiple sclerosis, as well as therapies to treat this autoimmune disease.
Our physicians and researchers participate in many studies and clinical trials that include the development of neural stem cells to repair damaged nerve tissue in multiple sclerosis patients and other studies to stop nerve inflammation altogether.
Learn more about our research efforts ›
The specialists in the UCI Health Multiple Sclerosis Program include: