Neurologist shares some optimism about MS

Multiple sclerosis can strike in the prime of people’s lives.

“It is a common disease of young people,” said Dr. Paul D. Morte, of Lawrence Neurology, who has been treating MS patients for 33 years.

It tends to strike people between the ages of 20 and 40.

“The good news about it is that MS is no longer, in my opinion, the feared disorder,” Morte said. “It’s about 40 percent less severe than it used to be because of the medications that we put patients on now.”

Still, experts don’t know what causes the disease that often strikes white females. He also said people are more likely to get MS if a relative has it.

Morte said Lawrence’s incidence level is average. He encouraged anyone with signs of MS – numbness that won’t go away, vertigo, fatigue, blindness – to get checked out right away.

“If you have the diagnosis, you have got to get on treatment – that is really important,” Morte said. “They will remarkably diminish the severity of the deficits that you will get from MS.”

He said the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., recently found the average life expectancy of someone with MS was 68.

Will there be a cure?

“There may never be something that completely prevents people from getting it, but I am sure there will be drugs that will make it nothing more than an annoyance,” Morte said.