Stay Well with MS
Jodie Haselkorn, MD, MPH - Seattle VA
Christina Hughes, MD - Seattle VA
It is important to get Yearly general primary care and specialty care evaluations. Staying well with MS depends on taking charge of your general health as well as keeping on top of your MS. Because people with MS can still have medical conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, and cancers, it is important to have a yearly primary care evaluation. This visit should include a comprehensive medical history review and general medical examination.
During these visits, your primary care provider can manage any health problems you may have and also plan for any routine health screenings. Bring all of your medications, including the ones prescribed by a non-VA provider, a naturopath, or those purchased over the counter. Also, bring any medical records and test results that are not VA documents.
Primary care providers work closely with MS specialists to provide comprehensive care for you. To successfully manage your MS, it is important to be seen annually by an MS specialist as well. This is generally someone in the neurology, rehabilitation, or spinal cord injury department with additional training in MS who is capable of performing a full evaluation of your needs. This specialty evaluation should include a comprehensive neurological history review and examination.
The evaluations can be done in a single outpatient visit, multiple outpatient visits, or in some instances as an inpatient. Your MS evaluation is a great opportunity to find out what is new in the management of MS and to stay ahead of problems that limit your activities or ability to participate in society. A careful determination of whether MS is impacting other aspects of your health, and developing the best management strategy for you, will improve your health and general well-being. If you don't know your MS specialist, or don't have an upcoming appointment, ask your primary care provider for a referral.
You can help prepare for an efficient, productive MS visit. Write a list of your most important questions and identify which are priorities ahead of time. As with your primary care visit, be sure to bring all medications and non-VA medical documentation with you to your appointment.
Some common questions your MS specialist may ask are:
Attention to these and other details can maximize your independence and quality of life. Taking the time to care for your primary and specialty needs is a great way to minimize difficulties you and your family may experience with MS and your health.
Updated: November 2012