Multiple sclerosis is a condition that can affect the brain and spinal cord. It can cause a wide range of potential symptoms so this Guide to Multiple Sclerosis aims to provide you with some more information on the condition.
Multiple sclerosis or MS is a lifelong condition that can sometimes cause serious disability. However, it can be mild. The NHS defines some of the symptoms as problems with vision, arm or leg movement, sensation or balance. In many cases, it is possible to treat symptoms.
The condition is commonly diagnosed in people in their 20s and 30s, although it can develop at any age. The average life expectancy is slightly reduced for people with MS and is one of the most common causes of disability in younger adults.
Guide to Multiple Sclerosis – What is MS?
Each nerve fibre in the brain and spinal cord is surrounded by a layer of myelin. This protects the nerve and helps electrical signals travel fast and effectively. In MS, the myelin becomes damaged, MS is a demyelinating inflammatory disorder.
A clinically isolated syndrome (CIS) is an episode of inflammation in the brain or spinal cord which has not clearly been caused by a new problem. The commonest cause of a clinically isolated syndrome is a demyelinating process. The commonest cause of demyelination is multiple sclerosis (MS). However, having a single “attack” or CIS does not mean that you have MS.
More information about CIS and the links to Multiple Sclerosis can be found here.
Around 8 out of 10 people with MS will have the relapsing remitting type of Multiple Sclerosis. Someone with relapsing remitting MS will have periods of time where symptoms are mild or disappear altogether. This is known as remission because it can last for days, weeks or sometimes months.
Remission may be followed by a sudden flare-up of symptoms, known as a relapse. Relapses can last from a few weeks to few months. Often, after around 10 years, around half of people with relapsing remitting MS will go on to develop secondary progressive MS.
In secondary progressive MS, symptoms gradually worsen and there are fewer or no periods of remission.
The least common form of MS is primary progressive MS. In this type, symptoms gradually get worse over time and there are no periods of remission.
There is currently no cure for MS but there are a number of treatments that can help. Seeing a neurologist will assist you in your understanding of the condition.
Dr Paviour is a Consultant Neurologist in Central and South West London. He has a specialist interest in Parkinson’s disease and other Movement Disorders.
He can provide extensive detail around this Guide to Multiple Sclerosis. So feel free to make an appointment. Simply phone 020 7042 1850 or send a message via our contact us page.