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Monday, February 26, 2024

What Is Life Like With MS?

Posted By: Advancing Care

Medically reviewed by Stephanie Gandelman, MD

In the past few years, Hollywood celebrities such as Christina Applegate and Selma Blair have revealed their multiple sclerosis (MS) diagnoses.

The good news is MS isn’t fatal, and those with MS can live active and fulfilling lives.

However, MS can be an unpredictable neurological disorder that affects everyone differently.

Woman holding cane

What is multiple sclerosis?

MS is a chronic and potentially disabling neurological disorder that affects the central nervous system. In individuals with MS, the immune system mistakenly attacks the protective covering of nerve fibers, called myelin, causing inflammation and damage. This disrupts the normal flow of electrical impulses along the nerves.

What are its symptoms?

The symptoms of MS can vary widely depending on the location and extent of the damage to the nervous system. Common symptoms include:

  • Vision problems
  • Numbness or tingling in the extremities
  • Weakness in the extremities
  • Problems with coordination and balance
  • Difficulty walking
  • Fatigue issues with bladder and bowel function

Not everyone with MS will experience all of these symptoms, and the severity can vary. Without treatment, the course of MS can be unpredictable, typically early on withperiods of symptom exacerbation (relapses) followed by periods of partial or complete recovery (remissions), and over time potentially with progression of disability. However, this course can be altered significantly with a disease-modifying therapy (DMT).

What causes multiple sclerosis?

The exact cause of multiple sclerosis is not fully understood, but it is believed to involve a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Some studies suggest that viral infections or other environmental triggers may contribute to the development of MS in genetically predisposed individuals.

How do we treat multiple sclerosis?

There is currently no cure for multiple sclerosis, but there are various treatment options available to substantially reduce the formation of new MS lesions in the brain and spinal cord, manage symptoms, and improve the quality of life for individuals with MS. Treatment may include medications, physical therapy and lifestyle modifications.

Diagnosing MS typically involves a combination of clinical evaluation, medical history, neurological exams and imaging studies such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), carried out by a neurologist.

It's important for individuals experiencing symptoms suggestive of MS to consult with their healthcare provider for a proper diagnosis and appropriate management.

Neurologists at WMCHealth Physicians and Bon Secours Medical Group offer comprehensive care to individuals with multiple sclerosis and related conditions such as neuromyelitis optica (NMO), myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein antibody-associated disease (MOGAD), transverse myelitis, optic neuritis and other neuroimmune disorders.Reach out today to schedule a consultation at a WMCHealth provider location convenient for you.