What is Multiple Sclerosis?
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) can be an unpredictable, sometimes disabling disease of the central nervous system (brain and spine) that can disturb the flow of information within the brain, as well as between the brain and the body.
There are four different types of MS: Clinically Isolated Syndrome (CIS), Relapsing-Remitting MS (RRMS), Primary Progressive MS (PPMS) and Secondary Progressive MS (SPMS).
Clinically Isolated Syndrome (CIS) is caused by inflammation and demyelination in the central nervous system. This lasts for at least 24 hours, is a characteristic of MS but does not meet the criteria for a diagnosis because it may or may not develop into MS.
Relapsing-Remitting MS (RRMS) is the most common and is characterized by a defined attack of new or increasing symptoms. The episodes are followed by periods of partial or complete recovery. About 85 percent of people with MS begin with RRMS.
Primary Progressive MS (PPMS), about 15 percent of people with MS are diagnosed with PPMS. PPMS is caused by worsening neurologic function starting at the first onset of symptoms.
Secondary Progressive MS (SPMS) follows an initial relapsing-remitting course and many people who are diagnosed with this may eventually transition to a secondary progressive course in which there is a progressive worsening of neurologic function over time.
Symptoms vary between mild and severe, may come and go, and can be combined or separate from other symptoms. The symptoms may include:
- Numbness, muscle weakness or tightness
- Painful sensations
- Slurred speech
- Blurred or double vision
- Poor balance or coordination
- Challenges with memory, attention and concentration
Treatments & Medications
MS is not always easily diagnosed since symptoms may or may not show. However, MS can be treated. Nowadays, there are many medications, approved by the FDA, which have shown to be effective in reducing disease activity in relapsing forms of MS. The medication can be taken in several different forms such as, orally, injections or infusion.
There is a possibility that treatment can be recommended before an individual is diagnosed if the person has experienced one episode of neurologic symptoms that are consistent with MS (clinically isolated syndrome) and has evidence of MS lesions as seen on an MRI scan.
Every condition is different and treatment requires specific diagnosis. Many physicians and providers will use a range of medications and management strategies to relieve or moderate symptoms, such as physical therapy, exercise, cognitive and vocational rehabilitation, and a healthy diet.
Interesting Multiple Sclerosis Facts
- More than 2.3 million people are affected by MS worldwide
- Most are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, and about two thirds are women
- The disease is more frequently found among people raised in colder climates
- Studies indicate that genetic factors make certain individuals susceptible to the disease, but there is no evidence that MS is directly inherited
- Statistics suggest that 2 out of 3 people with MS remain able to walk over their lifetime, though many of them will need a cane or other assistive device
Learn More about Multiple Sclerosis Specialists Near You!
Physicians Providing Care for Multiple Sclerosis.