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Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

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Multiple sclerosis (MS) facts

  • Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease that causes demyelination (disruption of the myelin that insulates and protects nerve cells) of spinal nerve and brain cells.
  • Although the exact case is unknown, MS is considered to be an autoimmune disease.
  • Risk factors for the disease include being between 15-45 years of age; women have about two to three times the risk for MS than men.
  • MS symptoms and signs depend on where the nerves are demyelinated and may include
  • There are four types of MS:
    1. relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS,
    2. the most common type), secondary-progressive MS (SPMS),
    3. primary-progressive MS (SPMS), and
    4. progressive-relapsing MS (PRMS).
  • MS is diagnosed by a patient's history, physical exam, and tests such as MRI, lumbar puncture, and evoked potential testing (speed of nerve impulses); other tests may be done to rule out other diseases that may cause similar symptoms.
  • MS treatment options include
    • IV steroids,
    • interferon injections (Rebif),
    • glatiramer acetate (Copaxone),
    • dimethyl fumarate (Tecfidera), and
    • many others, depending on the patient's symptoms.
  • Most MS patients have a normal life expectancy; untreated patients may develop mobility dysfunction while patients with the severe progressive forms may develop complications like pneumonia.
  • Ways to prevent getting MS have not been discovered.
  • Research is ongoing into developing new medications, immune system modifications, and other ways to identify potential MS causes.

What is the definition of multiple sclerosis (MS)?

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease that involves an immune-mediated process that results in an abnormal response in the body's immune system that damages central nervous system tissues; the immune system attacks myelin, the substance that surrounds and insulate nerves fibers causing demyelination that leads to nerve damage. Because the exact antigen or target of the immune – mediated attack is not known, many experts prefer to label MS as "immune-mediated instead of an "autoimmune disease."

What is multiple sclerosis (MS)?

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease which causes demyelination of the brain and spinal cord nerve cells. When this occurs, axons (the parts of the nerve cells which conduct impulses to other cells), don't work as well. Myelin acts like insulation on electrical wires. As more areas or nerves are affected by this loss of myelin, patients develop symptoms because the ability of axons to conduct impulses is diminished or lost. The specific symptom that someone experiences is related to the area that has been affected. As demyelination takes place, areas of inflammation and subsequent injury can be identified; these areas of injury are called lesions or plaques and are readily apparent on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/15/2015


Multiple Sclerosis

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