MS (Multiple Sclerosis) – Disease of the Central Nervous System

What is Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is one of the most widespread diseases of the central nervous system. Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is the result of damage to myelin (protective covering surrounding nerve fibers). When myelin is injured, this meddles with messages between the brain and other parts of the body. (Watch ” What is Multiple Sclerosis” Video)

Multiple Sclerosis Causes

Exact cause of MS is not known, complex interplay of environmental and possibly genetic risk factors are believed to be major contributing factors. MS is caused by damage to the myelin sheath, the protective covering that surrounds nerve cells. When this nerve covering is damaged, nerve signals slow down or stop. The nerve damage is caused by inflammation. Inflammation occurs when the body’s own immune cells attack the nervous system. This can occur along any }area of the brain, optic nerve, and spinal cord. {Watch Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Video}

Types of Multiple Sclerosis

  •  Relapsing-Remitting MS (RRMS). This is the most common form of multiple sclerosis. About 85% of people with MS are initially diagnosed with RRMS. People with RRMS have temporary periods called relapses, flare-ups or exacerbations, when new symptoms appear.
  • Secondary-Progressive MS (SPMS). In SPMS, symptoms worsen more steadily over time, with or without the occurrence of relapses and remissions. Most people who are diagnosed with RRMS will transition to SPMS at some point.
  • Primary-Progressive MS (PPMS). This type of MS is not very common, occurring in about 10% of people with MS. PPMS is characterized by slowly worsening symptoms from the beginning, with no relapses or remissions
  • Progressive-Relapsing MS (PRMS). A rare form of MS (5%), PRMS is characterized by a steadily worsening disease state from the beginning, with acute relapses but no remissions, with or without recovery

Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms (MS Symptoms)

Multiple Sclerosis(MS) Symptoms

Symptoms depend on which areas of the central nervous system have been affected. There is no set pattern to MS and everybody with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) has a different set of symptoms, which can be dissimilar from time to time and can vary in severity and duration, even in the same person. Symptoms include

Muscle symptoms

  • Loss of balance
  • Muscle spasms
  • Numbness or abnormal sensation in any area
  • Problems moving arms or legs
  • Problems walking
  • Problems with coordination and making small movements
  • Tremor in one or more arms or legs
  • Weakness in one or more arms or legs

Bowel and bladder symptoms

Eye symptoms

Layers of a multiple sclerosis lesion
Layers of a multiple sclerosis lesion (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
  • Double vision
  • Eye discomfort
  • Uncontrollable rapid eye movements
  • Vision loss (usually affects one eye at a time)

Numbness, tingling, or pain

  • Facial pain
  • Painful muscle spasms
  • Tingling, crawling, or burning feeling in the arms and legs

Other brain and nerve symptoms

  • Decreased attention span, poor judgment, and memory loss
  • Difficulty reasoning and solving problems
  • Depression or feelings of sadness
  • Dizziness and balance problems
  • Hearing loss

Sexual symptoms

  • Problems with erections
  • Problems with vaginal lubrication

Speech and swallowing symptoms

  • Slurred or difficult-to-understand speech
  • Trouble chewing and swallowing

 Multiple Sclerosis Diagnosis

Neurologists take detailed histories and perform complete physical and neurological examinations.

  • MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) helps to identify, describe, and date lesions in the brain (plaques).
  • An Electro-Physiological Test examines the impulses traveling through the nerves to determine if the impulses are moving normally or too slowly.
  • Examining the Cerebro-Spinal Fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord may identify abnormal chemicals (antibodies) or cells that suggest the presence of multiple sclerosis.

These three tests assist the Neurologists in confirming the diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis.

MS Treatment (Multiple Sclerosis Treatment)

Immunomodulation and Immunosuppression are two main therapies that can treat Multiple Sclerosis (MS).

  • Immunomodulation.  The immunomodulating properties of these therapies lead to a reduction of malfunctioning immune cells by regulating their activation. Additionally, the natural barrier between the blood circulation and the brain, the so-called “blood-brain barrier,” is believed to become less permeable. The barrier lets fewer immune cells pass into the brain where they could cause harm by attacking the healthy nerve tissue.
  • Immunosuppression.  The immunosuppressant properties of these therapies lead to a reduction of the malfunctioning immune cells in the blood circulation that potentially could cause harm to nerve cells. As a downside, the number of well-functioning immune cells is reduced as well.

Some of the medications used are as follows:-

  • Beta interferons. Appear to slow the rate at which multiple sclerosis symptoms worsen over time. Interferons can cause side effects, including liver damage
  • Glatiramer (Copaxone). works by blocking your immune system’s attack on myelin. Side effects may include flushing and shortness of breath after injection.
  • Fingolimod (Gilenya). An oral medication given once daily, this works by trapping immune cells in lymph nodes. It reduces attacks of MS and short-term disability. There is a need to have your heart rate monitored for six hours after the first dose. Other side effects include high blood pressure and visual blurring.
  • Natalizumab (Tysabri).  Work by interfering with the movement of potentially damaging immune cells from your bloodstream to your brain and spinal cord. It is reserved for people who see no results from or cannot tolerate other types of treatments. Tysabri increases the risk of progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy(a fatal brain infection).

Multiple Sclerosis Life Expectancy

MS is not fatal, and life expectancy is therefore similar to that of the general population. MS tends to affect quality of life, not quantity of life. The leading causes of death in the MS community are heart disease, cancer, and stroke.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s