Multiple Sclerosis & Autoimmune Diseases

UTMB provides a multidisciplinary approach to diagnosing, managing, and researching multiple sclerosis, a progressive neurological disorder that affects the central nervous system, including the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves.

The disorder usually strikes adults between the ages of 18 and 40, causing a range of disabilities, from mobility problems to cognitive defects. Symptoms—which include vision problems, muscle weakness in the extremities, numbness, bladder problems, and certain cognitive impairments—can be mild or severe, and can occur in relapsing episodes (lasting days or weeks) or become chronic.

Types of Multiple Sclerosis (MS)


  • Relapsing-Remitting MS (RRMS)
    Relapsing-Remitting MS (RRMS). This is the most common form of multiple sclerosis. About 85 percent of people with MS are initially diagnosed with RRMS. People with RRMS have temporary periods called relapses, flare-ups or exacerbations, when new symptoms appear.
  • Secondary-Progressive MS (SPMS)
    Secondary-Progressive MS (SPMS). In SPMS, symptoms worsen more steadily over time, with or without the occurrence of relapses and remissions. Most people who are diagnosed with RRMS will transition to SPMS at some point.
  • Primary-Progressive MS (PPMS)
    Primary-Progressive MS (PPMS). This type of MS is not very common, occurring in about 10 percent of people with MS. PPMS is characterized by slowly worsening symptoms from the beginning, with no relapses or remissions.
  • Progressive-Relapsing MS (PRMS)
    Progressive-Relapsing MS (PRMS). A rare form of MS (5%), PRMS is characterized by a steadily worsening disease state from the beginning, with acute relapses but no remissions, with or without recovery.

Comprehensive, Multidisciplinary Care

UTMB Health provides comprehensive, individualized care to patients with MS. We also draw on the expertise of specialists in urology, rehabilitation, ophthalmology, and neuroradiology.

Our care team uses state-of-the-science imaging technology techniques to help accurately pinpoint areas of damage in the brain caused by MS. Treatments are tailored to patients' specific needs. For patients with relapsing-remitting MS, treatment typically involves drugs called immunomodulators, which help slow the rate of relapse by decreasing inflammatory processes involved in myelin destruction. For more aggressive forms of MS, we use the full range of currently available immune suppressant agents.

In addition to treating the disease and its symptoms, we provide a strong focus on patient education, helping patients and their families learn to adapt the challenges that the disease presents.

In the Health Blog

Researchers find new gene interaction associated with increased MS risk:

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