Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis is difficult to understand and to define.In the medical world, MS is often described as “an autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system.” The disease is caused by the breakdown of myelin, leading to damaged nerves and the formation of scar tissue.

If you’re struggling to grasp this definition, you’re not alone. I will try to describe the condition in layman’s terms.

Our nervous system is similar to a telecommunications system with cords that cover the wires much like a cell phone cable. The substance that covers the cables is a fatty substance called myelin. In MS, the myelin breaks down for an unknown reason. The nerves that are affected have effects like power problems with cables.”

Although nerves can respond well to medication, not knowing what’s next is the hardest part of living with MS. It’s hard to predict how much or when MS will affect you.  It’s like getting a phone cord you need for life then running it over with a chair accidentally. You still need the cord but you have to use it with care.  Taking it one day at a time makes it more manageable.

I could get super scientific and describe demyelination but most people don’t have the attention span for that, because MS is in the brain (very much like ADHD which is also describe on this blog), there is a chance for damage in your brain and spinal cord that can cause issues ranging from loss of sensation in your fingers to the complete loss of mobility and control of bodily functions.  Some symptoms can include – burning sensations, memory problems, heat strokes, and fatigue.

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What are the symptoms of MS?

People with multiple sclerosis (MS) experience a wide range of symptoms. Due to the nature of the disease, symptoms can vary widely from person to person. They can also change in severity from year to year, month to month, and even day to day.

Two of the most common symptoms are fatigue and difficulty walking.

Difficulty walking can occur with MS for a number of reasons:

  • numbness of your legs or feet
  • difficulty balancing
  • muscle weakness
  • muscle spasticity
  • difficulty with vision

Overwhelming fatigue can also contribute to the problem. Difficulty walking can lead to injuries due to falling.

Other fairly common symptoms of MS include:

  • speech disorders
  • tremor
  • cognitive issues involving concentration, memory, and problem-solving skills
  • acute or chronic pain

What is multiple sclerosis?

Relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS)

RRMS involves clear relapses of disease activity followed by remissions. During remission periods, symptoms are mild or absent and there’s no disease progression. RRMS is the most common form of MS at onset.

Clinically isolated syndrome (CIS)

CIS involves one episode of symptoms lasting at least 24 hours. These symptoms are due to demyelination in your central nervous system.

The two types of episodes are monofocal and multifocal. A monofocal episode means one lesion causes one symptom. A multifocal episode means you have more than one lesion and more than one symptom.

Although these episodes are characteristic of MS, they aren’t enough to prompt a diagnosis. If lesions similar to those that occur with MS are present, you’re more likely to receive a diagnosis of RRMS. If these lesions aren’t present, you’re less likely to develop MS.

Primary-progressive MS (PPMS)

Neurological function becomes progressively worse from the onset of your symptoms if you have PPMS. However, short periods of stability can occur.

Progressive-relapsing MS was a term previously used for progressive MS with clear relapses. This is now called PPMS. The terms “active” and “not active” are used to describe disease activity.

Secondary-progressive MS (SPMS)

SPMS occurs when RRMS transitions into the progressive form. You may still have noticeable relapses, in addition to gradual worsening of function or disability.

Treatment for multiple sclerosis

No cure is available for MS, but multiple treatment options exist.

If you have RRMS, disease-modifying medications are designed to slow disease progression and lower your relapse rate.

Other treatments may ease your symptoms and improve your quality of life. Because MS is different for everyone, treatment depends on your specific symptoms. For most, a flexible approach is necessary.

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