Multiple Sclerosis Patient being helped by doctor outdoors

Understanding Multiple Sclerosis: Causes, Symptoms and Types

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic and progressive neurological disorder affecting the human body’s central nervous system (CNS). MS is a complex disease whose causes are not yet fully understood. However, researchers believe genetic, environmental, and immunological factors may contribute to its development.

Multiple Sclerosis Causes

The immune system plays a crucial role in MS. In a person with MS, the immune system attacks the myelin sheath that covers and protects the nerve fibers in the CNS. This damages the myelin and disrupts the communication between the brain and other parts of the body, causing a wide range of symptoms.

Types

MS can affect people of any age, but it is most commonly diagnosed in people between 20 and 40. Women are more likely to develop MS than men. There are different types of MS, each with its own set of symptoms and progression patterns.

  1. Relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS) is the most common type of MS, affecting around 85% of people with MS. It is characterized by episodes of symptoms, known as relapses or attacks, followed by periods of remission when symptoms improve or disappear. During a relapse, new symptoms may appear, or existing symptoms may worsen.
  2. Secondary-Progressive MS (SPMS) is a form of MS that develops in people with RRMS over time. It is characterized by steadily worsening symptoms and disability, with or without relapses.
  3. Primary-Progressive MS (PPMS) is a less common type of MS, affecting around 10% of people with MS. It is characterized by a steady worsening of symptoms and disability from the beginning, without relapses or remissions.
  4. Progressive-relapsing MS (PRMS) is a rare type of MS, affecting around 5% of people with MS. It is characterized by a steady worsening of symptoms from the beginning, with occasional relapses or attacks.

Symptoms

The symptoms of MS vary widely depending on which part of the CNS is affected. Common symptoms include fatigue, muscle weakness, tremors, numbness or tingling, vision problems, bladder and bowel dysfunction and cognitive impairment.

MS is diagnosed through a combination of medical history, physical examination, and various tests, such as MRI, lumbar puncture, and evoked potentials. There is currently no cure for MS, but several treatments can help manage symptoms and slow the progression of the disease.

Multiple sclerosis treatments at Foothills Neurology are tailored specifically for the symptoms and condition of each patient. Our specialists typically combine medications to slow the activity and progression of MS and dietary recommendations. We aim to reduce the duration and severity of relapses and manage your symptoms.

MS is a complex and progressive disease that affects the CNS. Its causes are not yet fully understood, but a combination of genetic, environmental, and immunological factors may contribute to its development. There are different types of MS, each with its own set of symptoms and progression patterns. While there is currently no cure for MS, treatments are available to help manage symptoms and slow down the progression of the disease. Working closely with the professionals at Foothills Neurology to manage MS effectively and maintain a good quality of life is essential.

Contact our clinics in Ahwatukee or Scottsdale to schedule a consultation and evaluation.

Foothills Neurology