Understanding Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms and Treatments
Multiple sclerosis is a condition that affects the brain, spinal cord, and other nervous system components. The immune system attacks the myelin sheaths that protect the neural pathways. Damage to those protective coatings creates issues with the communications that use nerves to get through the body. The progression of the disease varies from patient to patient, and the extent of nerve damage does, as well. MS is incurable, but there are lots of treatment options available to slow its progression and help patients retain quality of life.
MS symptoms will vary from person to person, but the following are the most common symptoms:
- Numbness or weakness in the limbs
- Dizziness and disorientation
- Loss of vision, pain with eye movement
- Double vision
- Tingling and pain in various body parts
- Tremor, difficulty walking
- Slurred speech
- Shock-like sensations, especially in the face and neck
- Bladder and bowel trouble
The cause of MS is actually not known. Scientists haven’t found a specific cause, but they’ve narrowed down certain genetic and environmental factors that increase your risk of developing multiple sclerosis. Women, adult aged people, smokers, people with a family history, people with existing autoimmune disorders, people who live in temperate climates (further from equator), people of non-Caucasian ethnicity, and those who have contracted certain viruses like Epstein-Barr are at a higher risk of being diagnosed with MS than the rest of the population.
The diagnosis of MS is more an elimination of other conditions that could be causing symptoms. There is no actual test to definitively diagnose multiple sclerosis. Blood tests, lumbar punctures, MRI, and various other tests may be used to eliminate other possible conditions.
There are many potential courses of treatment for MS. Some involve trying to stall the progression of the disease, some treat acute MS symptoms (attacks), and some aim to treat MS symptoms. Examples of medications used to alter the disease’s progression include beta interferons and ocrelizumab. Treatments for MS attacks include corticosteroids and plasma exchange. Physical therapy, various prescription medications, muscle relaxers, fatigue-reducing medications are prescribed for the treatment of symptoms, obviously dependent on the symptoms experienced.
Many MS patients find relief in self-care options like yoga, meditation, massage, and healthy eating. Herbal supplements like ginko biloba may also be used. MS patients are often ideal candidates for medical marijuana taken orally, as well.