Multiple Sclerosis (MS) does not define you… Your strength and courage does!
What is multiple sclerosis (MS)?
An active immune system is important for staying well and living daily life. However, in a group of diseases called ‘autoimmune’ or ‘immune-mediated’ diseases, cells in the immune system become overactive, and can attack tissues in the body, rather than bacteria or viruses causing an infection. Multiple sclerosis is one of the ‘immune-mediated’ types of diseases.
How does multiple sclerosis work?
In multiple sclerosis, or MS, the immune cells attack the central nervous system, which is made up of
- • the brain,
- • the spinal cord, which connects the brain to the rest of the body and allows for sensation and movement, and
- • the optic nerves, which connect the eyes to the brain and allow for vision.
Specifically, the immune system damages nerve fibers. When the nerve fibers and myelin are injured, the signals moving through the central nervous system can become slow, disordered, or blocked completely.
What are the symptoms of MS?
Multiple sclerosis can cause a wide variety of symptoms. The types of symptoms, their course (whether they get better, worse, or stay the same over time), and their severity vary from one person to the next. These are some of the more common symptoms:
- • Fatigue
- • Weakness
- • Numbness or tingling
- • Pain
- • Stiffness with muscle spasms
- • Dizziness and vertigo
- • Trouble walking or loss of balance
- • Vision problems
- • Bowel, bladder, or sexual problems
- • Cognitive and emotional changes, including depression
How is MS diagnosed?
MS is known for being a disease that is difficult to diagnose. There isn’t one single test which proves whether or not someone has MS. Additionally, all other causes of symptoms must be ruled out before a neurologist can confidently diagnose MS. The patient’s medical history and certain tests can provide evidence of the disease, these include:
- • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)
- • Cerebrospinal fluid- a spinal tap is performed
How is MS treated?
The treatment of MS requires a comprehensive plan directed by a neurologist. Patients are unique in how they may respond to treatments, and the various aspects of the disease require distinct treatment approaches, including:
- • Slowing the course of the disease – For certain patients, there are medications called “disease modifying therapies” that may be used to slow the progression of the disease and help to reduce the occurrence of attacks.
- • Managing symptoms – Medications and physical rehabilitation plans depend on the place the nerve disruption is occurring and the organs affected.
- • Treating MS attacks – Severe attacks that affect a person’s safety or severely limit the ability to function in daily life may be treated with a course of high-dose corticosteroids.
- • Improving function – Rehabilitation can be an important part of maintaining or improving function, and may include physical therapy, occupational or cognitive rehabilitation, and therapy for speech or swallowing problems.
Whether you are having symptoms that could indicate MS, but have not been diagnosed, or you have been living with an MS diagnosis for many years, the doctors at Comprehensive Neurological Solutions are here to assist you on your MS journey. Our team is here for you and your family focusing on the symptoms to diagnosis to achieving the best possible quality of life.