Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

What is Multiple Sclerosis?

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a long-lasting condition of the central nervous system. More specifically, it usually affects the brain and spinal cord, though it can also damage the optic nerves. MS causes the immune system to attack myelin, the protective material surrounding the nerve fibers. Without this outer covering, the nerves are far more likely to become damaged. As a result, the brain is unable to correctly send signals throughout the body. No one knows for certain what causes MS.

What are the Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis?

Everyone who is affected by the disease experiences it differently. Some will have a mild case that does not require treatment, while others will face difficulty doing simple daily tasks.

Symptoms include

  • Difficulty walking
  • Muscle spasms or weakness
  • Pain
  • Fatigue
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Depression
  • Impaired bowel or bladder control
  • Problems remembering or focusing
  • Sexual difficulty

Symptoms tend to first appear between the ages of 20 and 40. For some, the disease progresses over time. Others have attacks where the MS suddenly becomes distinctly worse. These relapses are often followed by recovery periods in which symptoms improve.

How is Multiple Sclerosis Treated?

Right now there is no cure for MS, however, a number of effective treatments exist to help patients feel better and improve bodily functions.

Treatments include

Drugs can also be prescribed to slow the progression of MS, treat or prevent attacks, relieve symptoms, and manages the stress. Steroids can shorten MS attacks or cut down on their severity. Muscle relaxants, Botox, and tranquilizers may be used for treating muscle spasms and other symptoms. Physical therapy helps patients regain balance and muscle strength, while occupational therapy can teach them other ways to take care of themselves and keep up with the job. Some people may require a walker, cane, or braces to assist with walking.

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Last Reviewed:
September 14, 2016
Last Updated:
August 31, 2017
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