Multiple Sclerosis is a demyelinating disease that can impact any part of the brain or spinal cord. An autoimmune disease, the body’s immune system attacks myelin sheath which surround many nerves. It is the most common autoimmune disease of the central nervous system, and affects millions of individuals. Damage to nerves, depending on where it is in the brain or spinal cord, can lead to significant disability and loss of function.
A clear specific cause for Multiple Sclerosis (MS) have not been found yet. Geographically, becomes more common the further away populations are away from the equator. It is more common in northern Europe. While it is not considered hereditary, there are some genetic variations which put people at an increased risk of developing MS. Smoking has been found to be a risk factor as well.
Signs and Symptoms
Patients with Multiple Sclerosis could have a wide variety of symptoms. Since damage to any part of the brain or spinal cord is possible, and the Central Nervous System (CNS) controls practically all parts of our bodies, MS can have almost any neurological sign. The most common symptoms are autonomic changes, sensory changes, motor changes, and visual changes. As the disease may progress, patients can have significant cognitive changes as well. Most commonly patients may have a change in vision with pain, weakness on one side, or numbness on one side.
Patient can also suffer from chronic fatigue, weakness, depression, headache, difficulties with coordination and balance, problems with speech and swallowing, bladder or bowel difficulties, as well as other symptoms.
The path to diagnosis usually involves first making your primary doctor aware of your symptoms and then being evaluated by a neurologist.
A neurologist will get a thorough history and perform a complete neurological examination. Your doctor will also likely order blood tests and imaging. They may also order a lumbar puncture to analyze your CSF (cerebrospinal fluid)
There is no cure for MS and it is often a progressive disease. Nonetheless, great strides forward have been made in the treatment of MS. The goal of treatment is to limit disease, prevent loss of function, and maintain quality of life.
In addition to finding the right pharmacological therapy for a patient, a host of other treatments may be helpful including physical therapy, occupational therapy, vestibular therapy, yoga, Vitamin D, and other alternative or complementary treatment strategies.
Medical marijuana may alleviate the impact of MS on its sufferers. Authorized healthcare providers can certify patients diagnosed with MS for medical marijuana in NY
National MS Society – https://www.nationalmssociety.org/
Multiple Sclerosis Association of America – http://www.mscare.org/
MS Care – http://www.mscare.org/