Is there any connection between multiple sclerosis and epilepsy?
Answers from Istvan Pirko, M.D.
Epileptic seizures appear to be three to six times more prevalent in those who have multiple sclerosis (MS) than in the general population (those who don't have MS).
The cause of seizures in people with multiple sclerosis isn't completely understood. In these individuals, seizures most likely result from lesions present in the cerebral cortex and adjacent white matter. However, other factors may play a role — especially since such lesions are very common and seizures are unusual in multiple sclerosis.
Seizures have been observed before and presumably marking the clinical onset of multiple sclerosis, and during acute bouts of MS. In some cases, seizures appear to be the only sign of a flare of MS, but the majority of seizures occur unrelated to such MS relapses. Currently there isn't general acceptance of seizures as the first and only sign of MS.
Most seizures can be controlled with anti-seizure medication.
June 22, 2012
- Marx JA, et al. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2010. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?about=true&eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-323-05472-0..X0001-1--TOP&isbn=978-0-323-05472-0&uniqId=230100505-57. Accessed April 20, 2012.
- Seizures. National Multiple Sclerosis Society. http://www.nationalmssociety.org/about-multiple-sclerosis/what-we-know-about-ms/symptoms/seizures/index.aspx. Accessed April 20, 2012.
- Kelley BJ. Seizures in patients with multiple sclerosis: Epidemiology, pathophysiology and management. CNS Drugs. 2009;12:805.
- Pirko I (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. May 2, 2012.