MS: Partnering With Patients to Improve Health

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Sharon, a 19-year-old woman, has a history of right optic neuritis and paraparesis that occurred 2 years ago. At that time, the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis (MS) was confirmed by a brain MRI and lumbar puncture. She has been taking disease-modifying therapy for 2 years and rarely misses a dose. Lately, however, she has experienced worsening symptoms and feels that her MS is progressing. Her neurologist doesn’t agree; he informs her that a recent MRI shows no changes, and her neurologic examination is within normal limits. At his suggestion, she presents to her primary care provider for an annual check-up.


Sharon’s height is 5 ft 2 in and her weight, 170 lb. Her blood pressure is 140/88 mm Hg and pulse, 80 beats/min and regular. Review of systems is remarkable for fatigue, visual changes when she is overheated, and weight gain of about 50 lb during the past year. Her lungs are clear to percussion and auscultation.

Her current medications include oral disease-modifying therapy, which she takes daily; an oral contraceptive (for regulation of her menstrual cycle; she says she is not sexually active); and an occasional pain reliever for headache.


Following history-taking and examination, the clinician notes the following impressions about Sharon’s health status:

Obesity: Examination reveals an overweight female with a BMI of 31.1.

Physical inactivity: As a legal secretary, Sharon sits at her desk most of the day. Her exercise is limited to walking to and from the bus to get to work. She has limited time for social activities due to fatigue. She spends most of her time watching television or visiting her parents.

Heat intolerance: While describing her lifestyle, Sharon notes that she does not participate in outdoor activity due to heat intolerance.

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