Multiple Sclerosis 101

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system that impairs the messages sent from the brain and spine to nerve cells throughout the body. While this condition is not contagious, it generally is one that progresses with time. Usually, this condition starts to show in adults between 20 to 40 years old and continues to advance from there.

 

What Are Possible Causes?

Studies show that the cause of MS is still unknown and is rather triggered by a combination of factors. As researchers continue searching for the cause, ongoing research contains:

 

  • Immunology – the study of the body’s immune system
  • Epidemiology – the study of disease patterns in large groups of people
  • Genetics – understanding the genes that might not be functioning properly for those with the condition
  • Infectious agents – like viruses

 

Signs/Symptoms to Look For

From severe MS to having a variety of possible symptoms, this condition can affect everyone differently. Symptoms can include, but are not limited to:

 

  • Problems with Vision– These may include blurred vision, loss of vision, double vision, dulling of colors, and/or pain when looking up or side-to-side.
  • Spasms and Pain– Involuntary muscle movement, or spasms, are common. Pain, even chronic pain, also occurs in about half of all people diagnosed with MS. We can assist you by suggesting pain management techniques and more.
  • Numbness and Tingling– Numbness occurs as a result of the neurological signals from the body being unable to make their way to the brain for interpretation. Tingling is, likewise, a misinterpretation of complete signals from the nerves in the body to the brain.
  • Fatigue
  • Disruption to Coordination and Strength– The disruption of signals from the brain to nerves in the muscular system make coordinated movement difficult, resulting in weakness and clumsiness.
  • Bladder and Bowel Dysfunction
  • Cognitive Issues– These can involve problems with memory, language, attention, and organized thought.
  • Emotional Changes– Depression, mood swings, uncontrolled crying and/or laughter, and irritability can be attributed to MS.

 

Types Of Treatments

Depending on what the goal of treatment is, there are 3 treatment options that could potentially work best. These can include abortive therapies, preventive therapies, and symptomatic therapies.

 

To start, abortive therapies are for those who experience a relapse or flare-up. In order to accelerate recovery, people are often given steroids known as glucocorticoids, which are used to reduce inflammation.

 

There are also preventive therapies, which are used to reduce the how often and severe the MS relapses. Treatments can range from receiving an injection or a drug that could help those with worsening conditions.

 

Finally, symptomatic therapies are an option for those looking for a long-term management of the condition. While medications are helpful, people can lean towards rehabilitation. For example, treatments such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, and consultations with specialists are approaches that are effective as well.

 

Next Steps to Take

The first step to treatment is the diagnosis. This involves getting a neurological exam for reduced nerve function, a spinal tap to test for the disease, and an eye exam to look for decreased response times and distortions in vision. Not only will these tests be used to diagnose MS, but they will also be used to rule out other possible conditions.

While there are no known cures for MS, one should consider early diagnosis and treatment if symptoms are showing. Foothills Neurology consists of an experienced and professional team of neurologists who specialize in conditions like MS. With our background, we are able to provide the treatment you need. See how we can help by scheduling a consultation with a neurologist today!

Foothills Neurology