Multiple Sclerosis also referred to as MS is a disease affecting nerves in the brain and spinal cord. This causes problems with muscle movement, balance and vision.
Nerve fibres in the brain and spinal cord are surrounded by a layer of myelin. The myelin protects the nerve and helps electrical signals travel fast and effectively. MS is known as a demyelinating inflammatory disorder because the myelin becomes damaged.
The NHS details MS as a lifelong condition that can sometimes cause serious disability, although it can occasionally be mild. In many cases, it’s possible to treat symptoms. Average life expectancy is slightly reduced for people with MS.
Multiple Sclerosis is most commonly diagnosed in people in their 20s and 30s. However, it can develop at any age. It’s about 2 to 3 times more common in women than men and is one of the most common causes of disability in younger adults.
Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis
The symptoms of MS do vary widely from person to person. The varying indicators can affect any part of the body.
The main symptoms are highlighted below.
- Difficulty walking
- Vision problems, such as blurred vision
- Problems controlling the bladder
- Numbness or tingling in different parts of the body
- Muscle stiffness and spasms
- Problems with balance and co-ordination
- Problems with thinking, learning and planning
Around 8 out of 10 people with MS will have the relapsing remitting type of MS. Someone with this type of Multiple Sclerosis will have Remission. This is where someone with this type of MS will have periods of time where symptoms are mild or disappear altogether. The Remission period can last for days, weeks or sometimes months.
Remission can 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.
More details on the development of MS and the condition itself can be found here.
Treatment for Multiple Sclerosis
There is currently no cure for MS but there are a number of treatments that can help. This will be dependent on your symptoms and a specific management plan but may include any of the following.
- Short courses of steroid medicine to speed up recovery
- Treatments for specific MS symptoms
- Disease-modifying therapies may also help to slow or reduce the overall worsening of disability
The MS Society provides a wealth of information on its website which will answer many of your questions.
Contact Dr Paviour
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 is the clinical lead for Movement Disorders at the Atkinson Morley Regional Neurosciences Centre. Patients are welcome to his clinics to discuss symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis. So simply phone 020 7042 1850 or send a message via our contact us page.