Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

What is Multiple Sclerosis (MS)?

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic disease that typically presents in younger adults. In MS, the body’s immune system attacks the protective tissue (called myelin) that surrounds nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. This disrupts communication between the brain and the rest of the body, and can result in a wide variety of symptoms. People with MS may experience lack of coordination, numbness and tingling of the limbs, fatigue, difficulties walking, mood changes, and cognitive impairment. Please see our patient handout Introduction to Multiple Sclerosis (MS).

MS Society of Canada black and white logo
MS Society of Canada

The cause of MS is not known, but it is likely related to a combination of both genetic and environmental risk factors. For instance, we know that women and people of Northern European ancestry are at an increased risk of developing MS. Cigarette smoke and low vitamin D/sunlight exposure appear to increase the risk of MS as well.

There is currently no cure for MS, however, there are treatments and lifestyle choices which may modify the course of the disease and help to manage symptoms.

Visit the Northern Health Regional MS clinic page to find contact, referral, and appointment information:

Northern Health Regional MS clinic

Disease modifying therapy

A disease modifying therapy may be recommended by the neurologist. Treatments are intended to lower your risk of relapse (attacks by your immune system), and reduce the risk of disability over the long term.  It is important to be consistent with your treatment and follow your neurologist’s recommendations. Skipping doses may lead to relapses/new lesions. If you're receiving treatment and you become ill, please let the clinic know because most disease modifying therapies can impact your immune system. If it is after hours or on a weekend and you are feeling very unwell please visit your local walk in clinic or emergency department.


Drug coverage

A first step for many clients who are starting on a treatment for their illness or related symptoms is to make sure they are registered with Fair Pharmacare.  To register and learn more visit the Government of B.C. Fair Pharmacare plan page.


Financial concerns and mental health support

If you are struggling with finances, practical issues or your mental health a referral to a member of our social worker team is possible. Please call 778-349-0889 to connect with our social worker directly or e-mail

If you are in immediate need of support call 9-1-1, call the suicide crisis line:1-800-784-2433 or go to your nearest hospital.

Northern Health Mental health information is available on our Mental health and substance use page. You can also check out additional mental health supports available across BC for patients of all ages.


Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

MRIs are ordered by your neurologist to help diagnose the cause of your symptoms, monitor for changes over time or to monitor how your disease is responding to treatment. The frequency and timing of MRIs will depend on how active/inactive your disease is on an individual basis and is typically ordered by your GP / Neurologist. You can learn more about MRI on the National MS Society’s website.  There is also an article on the website that offers tips for getting through an MRI. If you are claustrophobic or struggle with the idea of an MRI consider requesting a prescription from your neurologist/GP for some lorazepam to help you relax during your imaging.

Northern Health has 3 MRI departments these are located in Terrace, Prince George and Fort St. John.

If you have questions about your MRI appointment, need to cancel a booked appointment or want to confirm you requisition was received by the MRI department please call the MRI department closest to you.


MS and relapses

A relapse is a period of at least 24 hours of new neurological symptoms, or a sudden worsening of prior symptoms that cannot be explained by another underlying cause (i.e. an infection, exposure to extreme temperatures, menstruation or stress). Many relapses resolve on their own over weeks and/or months, however if severe, these can by distressing. It is important to let the MS clinic nurse know if you think you are having a relapse. Please discuss your symptoms with the MS clinic nurse and/or your primary care provider.

To reach the nurse call: 250-565-2842 or e-mail

If you experience moderate to severe symptoms outside of regular clinic hours, or on a weekend, please go to your nearest emergency department.


MS Clinic rehabilitation services

The Northern Health Regional MS Clinic has access to services from both a Physiotherapist and an Occupational therapist. Physiotherapy and occupational therapy are available for consult and periodic follow up to help you optimize your function and address symptoms and concerns related to Multiple Sclerosis. These services are typically available Wednesdays by appointment. If you would like more information, or to book an appointment, please email: or call 250-565-2304 to be contacted by one of our team.

Online exercise videos and classes

The resources listed above are also available as a PDF for you to download:

Online exercise videos and classes (PDF)


MS Navigators program

The MS Navigators program is available through the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada. The program offers a range of services including information, resources, and support to people living with MS and their families.

Visit the MS Knowledge Network page to learn more and connect with an MS Navigator.


Questions you might have

My prescription has run out, can you refill it?

  • Neurologists at the MS Clinic can only provide refills for medications they have prescribed. If you are running low on a prescription that has been prescribed by our clinic, please contact your pharmacy or your drug patient support program for assistance. Prescription refill requests can be faxed to the clinic at 250-565-2662.
  • If you have other questions/need further assistance please contact the MS Clinic Nurse by phone: 250 565-2842 or e-mail:

How often will I see my neurologist?

  • Typically an MS clinic neurologist will see you once a year. When you are first diagnosed, or during periods of increased disease activity, you may be required to come for more frequent visits.

I have forms I need filled out, who do I send them to?

  • Forms related to a medical leave from work, taxes/disability credits, disability applications are to be completed by your primary care provider (family doctor or nurse practitioner).  If forms are related to obtaining medication for your MS or require review by your neurologist you may fax forms to 250-565-2662 or email them to If you prefer to drop them off in person please call to arrange a time with our unit clerk: 250-565-2304 - option 1.

How do I get access to my health records and imaging reports?

  • Please connect with Release of Information at UHNBC by phone: 250-565-2706
  • Some information is also available through HealthElife. HealthElife gives you 24/7 secure online access to review select services that have been scheduled in the hospital setting and review your hospital digital health information from any computer or smartphone.

How do I follow up on referrals and appointments?

  • Call 250-565-2304 and select option 1. Please leave only one message if you do not get an answer. You should receive a response within 2 to 3 business days.

I don’t have a family doctor, who can I see for other medical needs?

  • For other medical needs not related to your MS please visit your local walk in clinic, or consider using the Northern Health Virtual clinic for any non-emergency medical needs.
  • If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please dial 9-1-1 immediately (or local emergency services in your community) or go to your local emergency department.

When should I call the nurse?

  • You have questions about MS
  • You are experiencing a relapse
  • Your MS symptoms are not well managed
  • You have questions about what your neurologist has prescribed
  • You want to start/stop disease modifying therapy
  • You are on a disease modifying therapy and are struggling with the side effects

Nurse line: 250-565-2842

I need more support / home based health services where can I go?

I have complaints or concerns about the care I or a loved one has received who can I talk to?