Multiple Sclerosis, referred to as MS, is a condition that causes the outer layer of the nerve fibers (known as the myelin) to become damaged. The damage can lead to scarring, which can interrupt the communication of nerve signals in the brain and spinal cord.
MS can affect patients of any age, however, it most commonly starts between the ages of 20 to 40. Most people with MS have a normal or near-normal life expectancy, so balancing the best quality of life with managing symptoms and attacks is optimal.
Common MS Symptoms
There are four types of MS. Your symptoms will vary depending on the type of MS that you have. The most common type is known as Relapsing-Remitting MS. This means that symptoms can come and go. They may also range from mild to severe. No two people have exactly the same symptoms, and an individual’s symptoms can change over time. Here are some of the more common symptoms:
- Vision changes or loss
- Fatigue and weakness
- Walking and balancing problems
- Numbness and tingling
- Paralysis (partial or complete)
- Coordination problems
- Speech disorders
- Cognition problems
- Bowel and bladder control issues
Diagnosing Multiple Sclerosis
A neurologist will evaluate a patient by taking a thorough medical history and performing a neurological examination. Accurate diagnosis by a neurologist is essential. MS is most often diagnosed based on medical history and patient symptoms. While there are no specific diagnostic or lab tests to detect Multiple Sclerosis, an MRI and other laboratory and special testing can often help with diagnosis as well as eliminate other conditions.
Treating and Controlling Multiple Sclerosis
While there is currently no cure for MS, there are various types of medications that help patients to maximize their activities of daily living. Certain drugs will reduce the effects of the disease by controlling the number of attacks while others will focus on symptoms such as pain, muscle stiffness and bladder control issues.
Here are Some Common Medications
- Medications for symptomatic treatment (i.e., urinary incontinence, muscular spasms)
- Other medications that become available
Stretching and specific exercises or physical therapy programs are also often prescribed to help MS patients become more mobile.
JWM Neurology Center for Multiple Sclerosis
JWM Neurologists diagnose, treat and care for patients who have Multiple Sclerosis. The JWM Neurology Center For Multiple Sclerosis has four dedicated infusion centers that are staffed by caring registered nurses. JWM offers balance disorders testing for MS patients who suffer from vertigo, and our sleep disorders physicians help manage sleep and fatigue problems that are common in MS patients. There are promising treatments on the horizon for MS. JWM Neurology is on the cutting edge and conducts Multiple Sclerosis clinical studies. For more information or to see if you are a proper candidate, call the JWM Research Department at 317-537-6061.
For more information about Multiple Sclerosis, visit www.nationalmssociety.org (National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Indiana Chapters).