A potentially disabling disease of the spinal cord (central nervous system) and brain is called multiple sclerosis (MS). In this disease it causes communication problems between your brain and the rest of your body because the immune system attacks the protective sheath (myelin) that covers nerve fibers. The nerves will soon deteriorate or damaged permanently.
Some people with this disease will have relapsing-remitting disease course. They will have new symptoms or relapses over a few weeks and sometimes may improve partially or completely. This will be followed by quiet periods of remission that may last up to years.
Secondary-progressive MS is a steady progression of symptoms that can occur to about 60 to 70 percent of people with relapsing-remitting MS.
Primary-progressive MS is a gradual onset and steady progression of signs without any relapses.
There is no known cause of multiple sclerosis and is considered as an autoimmune disease.
The body’s tissue will be attacked by the body’s immune system. In MS, it destroys the fatty substance that protects and coats nerve fibers in the spinal cord and brain (myelin). The nerve fiber will be exposed if the myelin is damaged, the messages that travel along that nerve might be blocked, slowed or damaged.
Your physician may recommend you to a neurologist that specializes in brain and nervous system disorders to receive a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. Your doctor may recommend a neurological exam and may ask your medical history. There are no specific tests for MS. A differential diagnosis that often relies on ruling out other conditions that might produce similar symptoms might be recommended. Some of these include:
Blood test – to check for specific biomarkers associated with MS and rule out other diseases.
Lumbar puncture or spinal tap – your doctor will remove a small sample of fluid in your spinal canal and this will abnormalities in antibodies that are associated with MS, this can also rule out other conditions and infections.
MRI – that can reveal areas of lesions on your spinal cord and brain.
Evoked potential tests – your nervous system in response to stimuli will record the electrical signals, the electrodes will measure how quickly the information will travel down your nerve.
If you have early treatment, it can slow the formation of lesions and lower the relapse rate. Treatments for relapsing-remitting MS include:
Fingolimod (Gilenya) – to reduce relapse rate. Your heart rate will be monitored for 6 hours after the first dose and side effects are high blood pressure, blurred vision and headache.
Teriflunomide (Aubagio) – side effects are hair loss and liver damage and cannot be used by pregnant women because it can be harmful to the unborn baby.
Glatiramer acetate (Copaxone) – to prevent blocking of immune system’s attacks on myelin.
Dimethyl fumarate (Tecfidera) – twice a day oral medication to reduce relapses and side effects are diarrhea, flushing, nausea, lower white blood cell count.
Beta interferons – can reduce the severity and frequency of relapses, side effect is flu-like symptoms.
Natalizumab (Tysabri) – to block the movement of damaging immune cells in your spinal cord and brain and this may increase the risk of a viral infection called progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy.
Mitoxantrone – immunosuppressant to treat only severe advance MS because it can be harmful to the heart and you may develop blood cancer.
Alemtuzumab (Lemtrada) – to reduce relapses but have a risk of infections and autoimmune diseases.
The treatments for MS symptoms include:
physical therapy that involves strengthening and stretching exercises so you can do your daily tasks,
The use of oral cannabis extract for muscle spasticity and pain is recommended by the American Academy of Neurology, but they do not cannabis in any other form of MS symptoms because of lack of evidence. Ginkgo biloba and bee venom and magnetic therapy are not recommended too.
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