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At the Weill Cornell Medicine Multiple Sclerosis Center, our expert neurologists diagnose MS and related disorders using the latest medical advancements. We help patients achieve the best quality of life possible.

We treat all demyelinating diseases — conditions that damage the protective layers (myelin sheath) of the nerve fibers, optic nerve and spinal cord — including the following:

Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is one of the most common chronic neurological diseases. It affects both sexes and all ages, but is most likely to develop between the ages of 20 and 40. Women are twice as likely to contract the disease.

MS is an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system, classified as a demyelinating disorder - myelin (the protective covering of nerve fibers) and myelin-forming cells are destroyed.

Initial symptoms may include difficulty with:

• Vision.
• Balance.
• Strength.
• Coordination.
• Other nervous system functions.

Disease progression may lead to long-term disability, making early diagnosis and treatment essential to protect the brain and spinal cord from injury.

Treatment is based on careful consideration of patient characteristics, as well as the effectiveness and safety of individual drugs. We also pay close attention to other factors that can influence MS, including nutrition, exercise, mental health, tobacco use and alternative medicine.

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Clinically Isolated Syndrome (CIS)

Clinically Isolated Syndrome (CIS) presents the same symptoms as MS, but patients undergo only one episode (a flare-up of symptoms), while those with MS have at least two episodes.

CIS can develop into MS, but this does not occur in every case. Accurate diagnosis and treatment are essential to ease symptoms and prevent further damage if MS does develop.

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NeuroMyelitis Optica

NeuroMyelitis Optica (NMO) is an autoimmune demyelinating disease that differs from multiple sclerosis in that the inflammatory attack is limited to the optic (eye) nerves and the spinal cord. Patients develop loss of vision or an inflammatory spinal cord injury.

Unlike MS patients, NMO patients often have a severe attack and do not fully recover. The disease progresses very quickly, and relapses are often severe. Therefore, it's important to receive early treatment and frequent follow-up care.

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Optic Neuritis

Optic neuritis is a condition that presents inflammatory demyelination of the optic nerve, resulting in painful loss of vision in one eye. This visual loss gradually develops over several days, with pain occurring around the orbit (socket) with eye movement. Visual function begins to improve over several weeks, and usually returns to normal by three months. Color vision is the last sensory faculty to return to those affected by optic neuritis.

In 20-30 percent of patients, optic neuritis is the first symptom of MS. MRI scanning helps to differentiate those patients who are more likely to develop MS. Other possible causes of optic neuritis include infections such as syphilis, Lyme disease, sarcoidosis or lupus.

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Transverse Myelitis

Transverse myelitis is a condition characterized by inflammation localized within the spinal cord. Subsequent injury to the spinal cord results in muscle weakness or pain, numbness or tingling, or problems with bladder and/or bowel function.

The degree of spinal inflammation caused by transverse myelitis may vary. Early evaluation – using MRI scans, physical examinations and blood tests to differentiate the different types of transverse myelitis – is crucial in order to provide patients with the most effective treatments to improve their condition and prevent further relapses.

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