The relationship you have with your MS physician is likely to be a lifelong one unless you move or the doctor retires. Key to treating your Multiple Sclerosis effectively is the relationship you develop with your MS physician and, if applicable, the MS physician assistant. Some doctors employ a physician assistant to take care of routine follow up appointments so they can devote their time to the more complex patient issues.

Regardless of whether an assistant is involved or not, the dialogue between you and your MS physician is the foundation of all future care.  The relationship must be built on trust and cannot be a one-way conversation. If your doctor isn’t willing to engage in a two-way dialogue with you regarding treatment options, it’s likely in your best interest to begin the search for a new MS physician.  But let’s for now assume you have a good relationship and dialogue.  Remember that your time with the doctor is limited so it’s vital that you prepare ahead of your appointment to make the most of this valuable time.

Consider starting a notebook or journal to keep notes of questions that come up between appointments, to ask about research you have done that you want to pursue as part of your treatment, and to document symptoms that give you problems so you don’t forget to ask about them.  Also, use this notebook to take notes of information and instructions your MS physician gives you when you visit.


What kind of questions should you ask?


You will no doubt have personal questions that can’t be addressed here but below are some issues you should be sure to address with your doctor.

  • What were the factors that confirmed my diagnosis?
  • What further testing do I need before we decide on a treatment plan?
  • What type of MS do I have, and how far along has it progressed?
  • What are the treatment options for my type of MS – both conventional and alternative?
  • What kind of diet and exercise changes can I make immediately that won’t affect any medications I’m on or may be on shortly?
  • Are there any other specialists I should see, or other tests I should have?  If further testing is planned, how should I prepare for these tests?
  • What medications are in my treatment plans and what happens if I don’t want to use these medications?
  • How much money is all this going to cost?


Don’t underestimate the importance of this last question.  Too many patients just blindly accept charges without questioning their need, the justification, the benefit, or affordability of the plan.  Very few patients have unending financial resources and it’s important that you use your limited resources to the greatest benefit.  Your MS physician should welcome these questions, and any others you may have.  It’s possible that the doctor may not have all the answers at the top of his head, but he/she should be willing to have them ready for your next visit.

Discussing these questions will help you both understand each other and will develop trust.  Don’t be afraid to question the reasons for anything.  A good Multiple Sclerosis physician understands the fear and confusion you are experiencing and should welcome the opportunity to help put you at ease.  And by asking these questions and getting answers, you will trust you MS physician more, thus reducing your anxiety which is likely very high anyway.