MS, a complex but treatable disease

MS, a complex but treatable disease

SYDNEY | AAP | 1 MAY 2017

What is Multiple Sclerosis?

  • A condition of the central nervous system, interfering with nerve impulses within the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves.
  • Symptoms depend on where in the central nervous system - brain, spinal cord or optic nerves - the sclerosis 'scars' develop
  • Most people diagnosed are between 20-40
  • Roughly three times as many women have MS as men.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms are varied and unpredictable, with no two cases the same. 

Symptoms can be any combination of five major issues:

  • Motor control - muscular spasms and problems with weakness, co-ordination, balance and functioning of the arms and legs
  • Fatigue and heat sensitivity
  • Neurological symptoms: vertigo, pins and needles, neuralgia and visual disturbances
  • Bladder incontinence and constipation
  • Neuropsychological symptoms: memory loss, depression and cognitive difficulties.

  

Are there different types of MS?

MS takes on one of four forms or stages, each of which might be mild, moderate, or severe:

  • Relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS) - the most common form of MS (75%) which is characterised by partial or total recovery after attacks.
  • Secondary progressive MS (SPMS) - more than 50% of patients with RRMS will develop this more progressive form of MS this within 10 years, 90% within 25 years.
  • Primary progressive MS (PPMS) - symptoms generally do not remit or abate and affects 15 % of people with a MS diagnosis.
  • Progressive-relapsing MS (PRMS) - obvious acute attacks from the outset but is quite rare, affecting 6-10% of MS patients.

Is there a cure?

There is no known cure, however there are a number of treatment options available to help manage symptoms and slow progression of the disease.

The two main aims of drug therapy are to ease specific symptoms and hamper the progression of disease by shortening the attacks.

  • Immunotherapy medications are often used to slow frequency and severity of attacks
  • Methylprednisolone, a steroid medication, is also used to control the severity of an MS attack by easing inflammation

(Source: MS Research Australia)

Image credit: todd-cravens/unsplash.com

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