February 28, 2017

Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

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, multiple sclerosis is considered to be an autoimmune disease.
  • Risk factors for the disease include being between 15-60 years of age; women have about two to three times the risk for multiple sclerosis than men.
  • Multiple sclerosis symptoms and signs depend on where the nerves are demyelinated and may include
    • visual changes including double vision or loss of vision
    • numbness,
    • tingling or weakness (weakness may range from mild to severe),
    • paralysis,
    • vertigo or dizziness,
    • erectile dysfunction (ED, impotence)
    • pregnancy problems,
    • incontinence (or conversely, urinary retention),
    • muscle spasticity,
    • incoordination of muscles,
    • tremor,
    • painful involuntary muscle contractions,
    • slurred speech, and
    • fatigue.
  • There are four types of multiple sclerosis:
    1. relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS),
    2. the most common type), secondary-progressive multiple sclerosis (SPMS),
    3. primary-progressive multiple sclerosis (SPMS), and
    4. progressive-relapsing multiple sclerosis (PRMS).
  • Multiple sclerosis 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.
  • Multiple sclerosis treatment options include
    • IV steroids,
    • interferon injections (Rebif),
    • glatiramer acetate (Copaxone),
    • dimethyl fumarate (Tecfidera), and
    • many others, depending on the patient's symptoms.
  • Most multiple sclerosis 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 multiple sclerosis have not been discovered.
  • Research is ongoing into developing new medications, immune system modifications, and other ways to identify potential multiple sclerosis causes.
Reviewed on 3/23/2016