Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

What is Multiple Sclerosis?

MS is a disease that damages the nerves of the brain and spinal cord. This disease causes Demyelination: damage to the protective covering of the nerve, scarring, and loss of neurons in the brain and spinal cord.

What are the symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis?

The earliest sign of MS is usually visual changes occurring for a few years. Symptoms of eye pain with movement and vision loss, called optic neuritis, usually present in 20-40-year-olds is a precursor to MS and occurs due to the loss of protective covering of nerves in the eye. Other symptoms include weakness in arms and/ or legs, loss of balance, tingling/ numbness in limbs, and muscle weakness. Symptoms that worsen with heat, fever, or exercise (Uthoff’s phenomenon) further indicate that MS is likely.  Another early sign of MS is called Lhermitte’s sign which is an electric shooting sensation in the arms, legs, or torso when the neck is bent a certain way.

How is Multiple Sclerosis diagnosed?

An MRI of the brain and spinal cord can confirm the diagnosis of MS. A positive MRI will show white matter plaques/ increased density due to loss of protective covering.

A lumbar puncture which also shows small bands in a specific region on inspection is also diagnostic of MS and indicates inflammatory cells in the nervous system.

How is Multiple Sclerosis treated?

Unfortunately, there is no treatment for MS, only the management of symptoms.

  • IV steroids are used in an acute attack of MS to decrease inflammation. If this is not effective, interferon can be used as well.
  • Physical therapy is a useful tool in managing MS to improve coordination and balance.
  • Oxybutynin is used for Patients with MS who experience bladder incontinence
  • Baclofen, tizanidine, diazepam, and dantrolene are medications used to treat spasms of MS.
  • Amantadine, an antiviral drug, can be used to treat fatigue which presents with MS

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