Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is a disease of the central nervous system; wherein the body’s immune system attacks its own myelin sheath leading to damage of the nerve cells.

Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis

Damage to the nerve cells causes miss communication and loss of coordination between the brain, spinal cord and other parts of the body. This loss of coordination causes the following symptoms to occur.

  • Sensory problems
  • Motor disturbances
  • Neurological dysfunction
  • Sensation of numbness, particularly in the hands and legs
  • Loss of coordination that causes imbalance while walking
  • Disturbance in cognitive functioning
  • Drowsiness
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty with speech
  • Dizziness

Diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis

To diagnose multiple sclerosis, your physician will carry out a preliminary physical examination and review your medical history. Apart from these methods to establish diagnosis, the following tests may be performed.

Blood Test: This test is performed to rule out other auto immune and inflammatory diseases that are associated with similar signs and symptoms.

Spinal Tap: This test requires testing of the spinal fluid for abnormalities in the white blood cells or proteins.

MRI: This test provides detailed images of the brain that would help to determine development of lesions due to damaged myelin sheath.

Evoked Potential Test: This is a most useful test that helps detect multiple sclerosis even in absence of symptoms.  This test allows for the detection of the electrical signals produced by the brain in response to stimuli.

Other Possible Accompanying Conditions?

Multiple sclerosis may give rise to the following secondary conditions.

  • Involuntary control in bowel and bladder movement
  • Disturbances in sexual functioning
  • Depression
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Epilepsy
  • Paralysis that tends to affect the legs
  • Difficulty in concentration
  • Memory loss

Treatment Multiple Sclerosis

It needs to be understood that there is no cure for multiple sclerosis. Hence, the treatment is targeted towards the management of symptoms and arresting the onset of secondary complications. The following are the various treatment modes available.

Drug Therapy to arrest the symptoms and reduce the inflammation. Drugs that are used include: corticosteroids, beta interferons, glatiramer acetate, fingolimoid, natalizumab, mitoxantrone and teriflunomide.

Plasma Exchange which involves the mechanical separation of blood cells from plasma by removing a portion of the blood from the body. This method is used for controlling severe symptoms.

The Outcome of Multiple Sclerosis

The outcome depends upon numerous factors. Age may play a role in outcome. It has been estimated that people with multiple sclerosis typically do well following treatment and have a life expectancy rate of 30 years from the onset of disease. Some symptoms are often under control with treatment. Other symptoms may tend to be bothersome and may require the development of coping skills for enhanced life quality.  Having a meaningful Q and A session with your physician may help set reasonable expectations for the outcome of your condition.

It is important to recognize that medications and medical procedures are associated with benefits and risks that should be discussed with your physician. It is important to recognize that all information contained on this website cannot be considered to be specific medical diagnosis, medical treatment, or medical advice. As always, you should consult with a physician regarding any medical condition. Your Health Access disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.