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Should I see a doctor about my benign multiple sclerosis?

Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Practitioner

Like all forms of multiple sclerosis (MS), the cause of benign MS is unknown. However, many believe it to be an autoimmune disease, which put simply means the body is attacking itself. For reasons unknown, your immune system starts damaging the protective layer of tissue around the nerves known as the myelin sheath. As a result, the nerves become exposed and have a harder time sending messages through the body. Recent studies have shown that people suffering from benign MS have fewer lesions and less inflammation in parts of the brain affected by those with other forms of MS. The reasons why however remain unclear.

Your risk for developing benign MS is increased by the same factors that increase your risk for any type of MS. Multiple sclerosis can affect anyone, but factors such as gender, geography, ethnicity, family history and age can all increase your risk of developing the disorder. Here is a list of risk factors associated with MS:

  • Caucasians of northern European decent are more likely to develop the disease than other ethnicities.
  • Men are less likely to have MS than women.
  • Warmer climates have less recorded instances of MS than cooler ones.
  • While MS is not passed directly down through families, you are more likely to develop it if a relative has it.
  • The common window for development and diagnosis is between the ages of 20 and 40.

MS is not curable. That includes benign multiple sclerosis. The cause of the disease has not yet been determined and without a known cause, it is hard to cure. The good news is while MS can cause a wide range of symptoms, it is not life threatening and benign MS is the mildest form of the disease. There are many treatment options available to help you manage the condition and ease pain.

Unfortunately, benign MS can only be identified years after an initial diagnosis of MS. If you do have benign MS, it likely won't affect your treatment plan, making a special appointment with your doctor is probably not necessary. After a period of around 15 years, your doctor will be able to classify your MS as benign if you don't develop any physical disabilities that seem to be getting worse. However, if you think you are experiencing symptoms of MS and you have not been diagnosed with the disorder, you should definitely talk to a doctor.

Dr. Steven A. Meyers, MD
Diagnostic Radiologist

Benign multiple sclerosis can only be diagnosed after someone has had multiple sclerosis that has not resulted in any disability after a period of many years. Regular follow up with a neurologist is very important in monitoring the progression of the disease.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.