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Conditions Related To Multiple Sclerosis

The following conditions are also managed in the University of Rochester Pediatric Multiple Sclerosis clinic. Depending on the individual, a person with one of these conditions may or may not be at high risk for developing multiple sclerosis in the future.

Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis (ADEM)

ADEM is a separate condition from multiple sclerosis, but also involves inflammation in the brain and/or spinal cord that injures the nerve cell’s insulation (myelin). The inflammation may be triggered by a recent illness (a cold or stomach flu), and it causes symptoms of neurological problems similar to MS. It is more common in children than in adults, and 90 percent of the time it does not recur or lead to MS in the future.

Optic Neuritis

Optic neuritis describes inflammation in the optic nerves—the nerves that transmit information from the eye to the brain—that injures the neuron’s insulation. It can occur in the context of an already diagnosed case of MS or at the onset of MS, but it can also occur when no MS is present. Rarely, other diseases can cause optic neuritis. Individuals with optic neuritis usually recover their vision completely or nearly completely over several weeks.

Transverse Myelitis

Transverse myelitis describes inflammation in the spinal cord that injures the nerve cell’s insulation. It can occur in the context of an already diagnosed case of MS or at the onset of MS, but frequently occurs in isolation and does not recur or lead to a diagnosis of MS. Individuals with transverse myelitis recover significantly from neurologic symptoms in 80 percent of cases.

Neuromyelitis Optica (NMO)

NMO is a rare condition that causes inflammation in the spinal cord and optic nerve with relatively minimal inflammation in other parts of the brain. This condition is distinct from MS, but usually does cause relapses over time. An antibody test in the blood can help identify this disorder.