Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

Multiple Sclerosis Summary
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease which progressively injures the nerves of the brain and spinal cord, reflected by alterations of virtually every sensory or motor function in the body. The cause of MS is primarily unknown. There are different types of MS including relapsing-remitting MS, primary-progressive MS, and secondary-progressive MS. Symptoms of MS rang from mild to severe and examples include muscle weakness, spasm, and fatigue. Decreased concentration, memory loss, and impaired judgment. Treatment for MS is generally with medications.
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Multiple sclerosis facts

  • Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease which progressively injures the nerves of the brain and spinal cord.
  • Injury to the nerves in multiple sclerosis may be reflected by alterations of virtually any sensory or motor (muscular) function in the body.
  • About 350,000 people in the U.S. have multiple sclerosis.
  • To diagnose multiple sclerosis, physicians take a detailed history and may use confirmatory tests such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), spinal taps to check for abnormalities in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), or visual evoked potentials (VEPs).
  • The cause of multiple sclerosis is unknown, but it has become widely accepted that genetic, immunological, and environmental factors play a role.
  • Multiple drugs are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of multiple sclerosis. These include injectable therapies -- which can be given either as infusions, under the skin, or into the muscle -- or oral agents.
  • The selection of drug treatment/therapy should be made after the patient with multiple sclerosis has been properly informed of drug efficacy, particular FDA-approved uses, administration routes, risks of adverse events, and methods to enhance tolerability and compliance.

What is multiple sclerosis?

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease in which the nerves of the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) to degenerate. Myelin, which provides a covering or insulation for nerves, improves the conduction of impulses along the nerves and also is important for maintaining the health of the nerves. In multiple sclerosis, inflammation causes the myelin to disappear. Consequently, the electrical impulses that travel along the nerves decelerate, that is, become slower. In addition, the nerves themselves are damaged. As more and more nerves are affected, a person experiences a progressive interference with functions that are controlled by the nervous system such as vision, speech, walking, writing, and memory.

About 350,000 people in the U.S. have multiple sclerosis. Usually, a person is diagnosed with multiple sclerosis between 20 and 50 years of age, but multiple sclerosis has been diagnosed in children and in the elderly. Multiple sclerosis is twice as likely to occur in Caucasians as in any other group. Women are twice as likely as men to be affected by multiple sclerosis earlier in life.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/16/2013

Patient Comments

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Multiple Sclerosis - Symptoms Question: The symptoms of multiple sclerosis can vary greatly from patient to patient. What were your symptoms at the onset of your disease?
Multiple Sclerosis - Treatments Question: How do you manage your multiple sclerosis?
Multiple Sclerosis - Diagnosis Question: How many doctors did you go to before you received a multiple sclerosis diagnosis?
Multiple Sclerosis - Causes Question: Were you, a friend, or relative diagnosed with MS? What do you think the cause might be?
Multiple Sclerosis - Type Question: What type of multiple sclerosis do you have? How do you cope with the symptoms and your condition?

Multiple Sclerosis Treatment

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a disease that attacks the central nervous system (brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves) resulting in symptoms that range from mild (numbness) to severe (paralysis).

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