Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis

The Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Center of Care New England provides a comprehensive and integrated program for the evaluation and treatment of multiple sclerosis and related conditions. The Center combines quality medical care with rehabilitation services and educational programs.

It is the only MS Center in Rhode Island that is affiliated with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Rhode Island Chapter. The Center promotes a positive proactive approach to managing multiple sclerosis. Accurate diagnosis, early treatment, careful monitoring, and attention to symptoms are the foundation for effective medical management. We believe education is critical in forging this therapeutic relationship between patient and physician.

Contact Information

Multiple Sclerosis Center of Care New England
Ambulatory Services Pavilion
455 Tollgate Road
Warwick, RI 02886
P: (401) 736-4626
F: (401) 889-5006

What is Multiple Sclerosis?

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a long-lasting, chronic disease of the central nervous system. It is thought to be an autoimmune disorder, a condition in which the body attacks itself by mistake. It is a disease that affects people differently, and some people may have only mild symptoms.

There is a fatty tissue that surrounds and protects nerve fibers in the body called myelin. In MS, the myelin is destroyed in different areas. The destruction of myelin forms scar tissue called sclerosis. When the nerves are damaged, they can’t conduct electrical impulses to and from the brain.

What are the causes?

  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Infectious agents, such as viruses
  • Environmental factors
  • Genetic factors

Primary Symptoms

  • Blurred or double vision
  • Red-green color distortion
  • Pain and loss of vision because of swelling of the optic nerve (optic neuritis)
  • Trouble walking
  • An abnormal feeling, such as numbness, prickling, or pins and needles (paresthesia)



Secondary and Tertiary Symptoms

  • Muscle weakness in the arms and legs
  • Trouble with coordination
    • You may have problems walking or standing. You may also be partly or completely paralyzed.
  • Spasticity
    • This is the involuntary increased tone of muscles leading to stiffness and spasms.
  • Fatigue
    • This may be brought on by physical activity. But it may ease with rest. You may have constant tiredness that doesn't go away.
  • Loss of feeling
  • Speech problems
  • Tremor
  • Dizziness
  • Hearing loss
  • Bowel and bladder problems
  • Depression
  • Changes in sexual function


A neurological exam will be performed by a physician and will look at some of these indicators:

  • Mental functions
  • Emotional functions
  • Language functions
  • Movement and coordination
  • Vision
  • Balance
  • Functions of the 5 senses

Other tests may also be done, including an MRI, blood test, eye exam, spinal tap or fluid analysis, and response to auditory, sensory or visual stimuli.


Any treatment or management of MS may include:

  • Disease-modifying treatments
    • Targets inflammation in the central nervous system and assists in slowing its deterioration.
  • Steroids and other medication
    • Can be used to treat acute relapses or manage symptoms.
  • Equipment such as canes, braces, or walkers
  • Rehabilitation activities


MS-woman-walkingOur comprehensive program is equipped to handle the wide range of symptoms that typically are associated with the disease. We address every aspect of a patient’s condition, providing physical, emotional, cognitive, and rehabilitation support. We also participate in research studies that offer innovative therapies.

Services include:

  • Medical evaluation and diagnosis
  • Diagnostic testing
  • Drug therapies and treatments
  • Outpatient/inpatient rehabilitation services
  • Psycho-social counseling
  • Maintenance exercise programs
  • Referral to additional services as needed (i.e., home care, IV infusion)

Additionally, educational workshops on topics such as nutrition, exercise, and stress reduction, are offered in collaboration with the Rhode Island Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS). Through our affiliation agreement, patients are provided with additional information and literature, peer counseling, support groups, and other helpful resources.

Movement Disorders Program at Butler Hospital

The Movement Disorders Program at Butler Hospital specializes in caring for patients with Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, gait disorders, tremors, drug-induced movement disorders, ataxias, dystonias, and other movement disorders.

Learn More

Frequently Asked Questions

What can I expect at the first appointment?
Approximately one week prior to your first appointment, you will receive a packet of forms to complete (clinical and identification information). Please bring this completed packet to your first appointment along with any previous MRIs, and physician information to improve the efficiency of your first appointment.

Team Members

Joseph B. Guarnaccia, MD

Director, MS Center of Care New England
M.D. University of Oklahoma College of Medicine
B.A. University of Pennsylvania, Political Science & Geology