What is Multiple Sclerosis?
Multiple sclerosis is a chronic, neurodegenerative autoimmune disease that affects the brain and spinal cord. It can cause physical, cognitive, and psychiatric problems and can be debilitating in more advanced cases. Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s own immune system attacks components of myelin, a protein that insulates nerve fibers in the central nervous system.
This disease affects everyone differently and has a wide range of symptoms. Symptoms may be transient or become permanent depending on the patient.
Symptoms may include:
- Balance problems
- Bladder problems
- Bowel issues
- Cognitive impairment
- Fatigue, chronic fatigue syndrome symptoms
- Heat sensitivity, heat intolerance
- Impaired coordination and dexterity
Multiple Sclerosis, like all autoimmune diseases, is diagnosed with laboratory testing. It cannot be diagnosed by symptoms alone; however, when patients display symptoms it may make it easier for a doctor to diagnose the patient. The disease is commonly diagnosed when patients display multiple symptoms, and have two or more attacks lasting at least 24 hours.
- Blood and urine tests – Used to for antibodies associated with multiple sclerosis (e.g., oligoclonal bands)
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) – Imaging of the brain and spine, including contrast enhancement of lesions on T2 weighted images
- Lumbar puncture – Also known as a spinal tap, this test may reveal inflammatory proteins such as albumin or IgG index changing over time
- Visual evoked – Electrodes are placed along your scalp to record the electrical signals as you watch a pattern flash for several minutes on a screen.
Treatments for Multiple Sclerosis may include medications, physical therapy and lifestyle changes which can help patients manage symptoms
- Abortive Therapies – Used to treat acute symptoms, steroids may be prescribed to shorten the duration and severity of the attack.
- Preventative Therapies – This type of therapy is used to reduce the frequency and severity of multiple sclerosis exacerbations or to treat worsening symptoms.
- Symptomatic Therapies – Rehabilitation strategies such as physical and occupational therapy with the goal improving and/or maintaining normal functioning for patient’s.