Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

What is Multiple Sclerosis?

Multiple sclerosis is an inflammatory disease that attacks the protective sheath (myelin) that covers the never fibers that communicate the brain with the rest of your body. The cause of this condition is unknown and its sometimes considered an autoimmune disease. Since the myelin sheath is damaged the messages that travel along the nerve fibers are either blocked or delayed. The onset of MS is usually around 20 and 40 years of age and it’s more common in females. Studies have also shown that this condition is more common in places with colder climates such as Canada, the northern United States, New Zealand, and Europe.  

What are the signs and symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis?

Signs and symptoms vary depending on the amount of nerve damage and which nerve is affected. The most common symptoms are:

  • Weakness and numbness in one or more limbs that typically occur on one side of the body
  • Tremor, lack of coordination or unsteady gait
  • Electric shock sensations that occur with neck movements
  • Double vision or blurry vision
  • Optic neuritis 
  • Fatigue and dizziness
  • Slurred speech

What are the complications of Multiple Sclerosis?

  • Muscle stiffness or spasm
  • Leg paralysis 
  • Sexual dysfunction 
  • Forgetfulness and mood swings
  • Depression
  • Epilepsy 

How is Multiple Sclerosis diagnosed?

The diagnosis of MS is based mostly on physical presentation, medical and family history. A blood test can be ordered to rule out other conditions that can cause similar symptoms. An MRI is the best initial test and it usually shows hyperintense white matter plaques, which is characteristic of this disease. 

How is Multiple Sclerosis treated?

There is not a cure for Multiple Sclerosis but management is focused on decreasing the progression of the disease and improving symptoms. The main medications given are corticosteroids to help reduce nerve inflammation.  Other medications such as ocrelizumab are used to prevent the progression of the disease.  

You can also see other medications as well as other treatment options here

What are the differential diagnoses of Multiple Sclerosis?

  • The systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)
  • Guillain-Barre syndrome
  • Spinal cord tumor

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