Multiple Sclerosis Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis is a chronic disease of the central nervous system including the brain and spinal cord. In MS, certain cells in the immune system become activated and multiply before traveling through the blood vessels and into the central nervous system, where they attack the nerves. Once inside the central nervous system, these cells trigger a process involving other cells to mount an auto immune attack on the protective covering or myelin sheath around the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. This interruption of signaling leads to disruption of normal body functions causing disability.

MS is one of the most common neurological diseases in younger adults. About 2 million people worldwide are affected with MS. In general, MS tends to affect patients between the ages of 20 to 50. MS is two to three times more common in women than in men. Approximately 400,000 people in the United States are affected with the disease.

Patterns of MS

There are four patterns of MS disease progression that patients with MS may experience. Depending upon the course of symptoms, patients will fit into one of these patterns:

  • 85% of patients have Relapsing Remitting MS (RRMS);
    • 50% of RRMS patients develop into Secondary Progressive MS
  • 10% of patients have Primary Progressive MS
  • 5% have Progressive Relapsing MS

With remission, there may be partial or complete recovery from symptoms. During remission, a person can be stable, experience an increase in disability or both. Most patients with RRMS will have a gradual increase in disability over time.

Symptoms

Symptoms of MS include:

  • Partial or complete loss of vision in one eye
  • Numbness of weakness on one side of your body or in your legs
  • Tremors
  • Muscle spasms
  • Unsteady gait
  • Lack of coordination
  • Buzzing or electrical shock sensation in the head or neck
  • Slurring of speech
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Frequency or urgency of urination or bowels

You can rely on the health professionals at St Luke’s MS Center for compassionate care delivered by the multi-disciplinary team this condition requires. They will evaluate your symptoms for diagnosis and provide you with treatment that will help to address your symptoms while allowing you the best quality of life.

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Causes

The causes of MS are still unknown. Researchers think it maybe caused by environmental factors like viral infections, genetics or combination of both. MS is more common in places that are farther away from the equator.

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Living Better

In addition to immunomodulary medications, exercise can help you manage your symptoms by improving your cardiovascular and muscle strength.

At St Luke’s MS Center, physical therapists can provide you with exercises to improve balance, coordination, strength and the way you walk. Occupational therapists may recommend changes in your home that will make it safer and can assess whether you would benefit from assistive devices such as handrails in your shower or tub. If you are slurring your speech or otherwise finding it difficult to communicate, St Luke’s MS Center speech therapists can help you with the appropriate exercises.

Individual and group programs are available not only to you, but also to your family, caregivers and the community. St Luke’s MS Center also has a dedicated MS Social Worker to help with patient and family needs throughout the course of the disease.

You’ll find tools for the newly diagnosed, as well as coping skills for those in whom the disease is established. Importantly, St. Luke’s MS Center offers continuing medical education for the members of its team and for community medical personnel, so you know that the professionals around you have access to the latest information and tools.

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Exams and Tests

There is no specific test to determine if you have multiple sclerosis. Generally, the tests that are administered follow your symptoms, and rule out other causes of those symptoms.

Your physicians at St. Luke’s MS Center will take a complete medical history, ask you about your environment and perform a physical and neurological exam, which will test your neural and language functioning, your reflexes and responses, and your strength, balance, and vision and other senses. You may be asked to walk, so the doctors can evaluate your gait.

Blood tests may be administered to rule out other diseases or causes. Other test may include a lumbar tap, a MRI and vision screenings.

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Treatment

Evidence shows the best time for a person with MS to start treatment is as early as possible during the disease course. The earlier treatment is started and maintained, the greater the long term benefits may be for the person with MS.

While there is no cure for MS, there are many treatments available. The purpose of treating MS is to slow or modify the disease by reducing the frequency of relapses and symptoms. Regular treatment for MS has been proven to reduce the number of relapses.

Medications include injectables, orals and intravenous medications. Different treatments work well for different individuals. At the St Luke’s MS Center we are committed to working with our patients to find the most efficacious and most tolerable medication tailored to our patients’ concerns, disease pattern and lifestyle.

Other treatments include:

  • Muscle relaxants
  • Botox
  • Physical Therapy and or Occupational Therapy to make sure your environment is safe when you have balance or vision problems
  • Speech Therapy
  • Urodynamic Screening for appropriate bladder meds
  • Bowel hygiene medication
  • Vision surveillance with ophthalmology

You and your doctor will determine the best course of action for your condition. The MS team at St Luke’s offers a full range of comprehensive care for the overall management of patient’s physical, mental and social needs in a compassionate and respectful setting. We adopt you as part of our MS family and work with you to maximize your strengths.

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