Overview of Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

While Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a rare neurological disease, its results are devastating. There is no one test to diagnose MS therefore, patients undergo a combination of tests and evaluations such as blood tests, spinal tap, imaging, and evoked potential tests that record electrical signals of the nervous system. Symptoms differ and include pain, tremor, muscular cramping, loss of coordination, vision problems, dizziness, fatigue, sensory abnormalities, urinary incontinence, and speech impairment.

The National MS Society defines the disorder as involving an abnormal response of the body’s immune system directed against the central nervous system (CNS). There are four courses that have been identified and defined by the International Advisory Committee on Clinical Trials of MS in 2013: clinically isolated syndrome, relapsing-remitting, secondary progressive, and primary progressive. Another course has been identified through MRI’s of the brain, radiologically isolated syndrome (RIS) where abnormalities are found in the brain and spinal cord. These abnormalities seem to be consistent with the lesions that are present with individuals who have MS, thus the majority of people who show RIS develop MS in the future.

Treatment for patients who suffer from MS aims to slow its progression and manage attacks, leading to recovery. These treatments typically involve medication such as steroids and plasma exchange. The course of MS determines which type of treatment the doctor may recommend varying from infusions, injectables, or oral. Physical therapy is often recommended in the patient’s treatment plan.

It’s important for MS patients to practice healthy and balanced lifestyle habits to relieve signs and symptoms. Getting plenty of rest and monitoring their sleeping habits helps quite a bit. Also, exercising, eating healthy, and minimizing stress are all vital to the overall well-being of those who have MS. Symptoms worsen if a person is exposed to heat. Avoiding high temperatures and keeping cool can be helpful.