Multiple sclerosis, or MS, is a long-lasting disease that can affect the brain, spinal cord, and the optic nerves in the eyes. It can cause problems with vision, balance, muscle control, and other basic body functions. MS happens when the patient's immune system attacks a fatty material called myelin, which wraps around nerve fibers to protect them. Without this outer shell, the nerves become damaged. Scar tissue may form and brain can’t send signals through the body correctly. As a result, patients may have symptoms like trouble walking, feeling tired, muscle weakness or spasms, blurred or double vision, numbness and tingling, sexual problems, poor bladder or bowel control, pain, depression, problems focusing or remembering.
The first symptoms often start between ages 20 and 40. Most people with MS have attacks, also called relapses, when the condition gets noticeably worse. They’re usually followed by times of recovery when symptoms improve. It is more common in females and in Northern Europe. It has a genetic component although most cases are sporadic. Some MS patients continue to get worse over time. There’s no single test that can prove one has MS. The test we do include blood tests to rule out diseases that cause similar symptoms, like Lyme disease and AIDS, Checking of balance, coordination, vision, and other functions to see how well your nerves are working. Tests include to diagnose are: brain and spinal cord MRI, Analysis of the liquid that cushions brain and spinal cord, called cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). People with MS usually have specific proteins in their CSF. We sometimes need more tests (called evoked potentials) that measure the electrical activity in the brain.
There is no cure for MS right now, but a number of treatments can improve how patients feel, improve the dysfunctions and prognosis and keep body working well. We also prescribe drugs that may slow the course of the disease, prevent or treat attacks, ease the symptoms, or help patients manage the stress that can come with the condition.