Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

Together with INTEGRIS physicians, neuroscientists and experts, we’ll do all we can to forestall MS, alleviate the symptoms and help you learn to manage them.

We can face this – together.

What Is Sclerosis?

The nerve fibers in your body are surrounded by a fatty tissue called myelin. When this is destroyed, scar tissue called “sclerosis” develops. This results in damage to the nerves, reducing their effectiveness in conducting electrical impulses to the brain. This problem is the main cause of the symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS), though the underlying reason why the damage occurs is not fully understood – it may be autoimmune or a failure of the myelin cells themselves.

MS is a chronic, largely unpredictable disease, and affects everyone that has it differently. Some people with MS may have only mild symptoms. Others may lose their ability to see clearly, write, speak, or walk when communication between the brain and other parts of the body becomes disrupted.

What Can Be Done?

Together with INTEGRIS physicians, neuroscientists and experts, we’ll do all we can to forestall MS, alleviate the symptoms and help you learn to manage them. Most people with MS live long, happy, fulfilling lives despite the challenges they face.

Understanding Multiple Sclerosis

Symptoms vary from person to person, and they may come and go or become more or less severe from day to day. They may appear in different combinations, depending on the area of the nervous system affected. The following are the most common symptoms of MS:

  • Blurred or double vision
  • Red-green color distortion
  • Pain and loss of vision because of swelling of the optic nerve
  • Trouble walking
  • An abnormal feeling or pain, such as numbness, prickling, or pins and needles
  • Muscle weakness in the arms and legs
  • Trouble with coordination
  • Spasticity: The involuntary increased tone of muscles leading to stiffness and spasms
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of sensation
  • Speech problems
  • Tremor
  • Dizziness and loss of balance (vertigo)
  • Partial paralysis
  • Hearing loss
  • Bowel and bladder problems
  • Sexual problems

As the disease progresses, cognitive symptoms may develop as well:

  • Difficulty focusing
  • Reduced attention
  • Memory loss
  • Poor judgment
  • Depression
  • Mood disorders

Symptoms of MS may mimic those of other nervous system problems, so MS is diagnosed by ruling out other conditions. Two things are required to make a diagnosis of MS: You must have had 2 attacks at least 1 month apart and more than one area of damage to central nervous system myelin. An MS evaluation involves a complete health history and neurological exam assessing mental, emotional, language and sense function as well as movement and coordination, vision, and balance. To determine a diagnosis or to rule out other diseases the following may be used when evaluating a person for MS:

  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): This procedure  uses large magnets, radiofrequencies and a computer to produce detailed images of organs and structures within your body. It can find plaques or scarring caused by MS.
  • Evoked Potentials: These tests record the brain's electrical response to visual, auditory, and sensory stimuli. These tests show if you have a slowing of messages in the different parts of the brain.
  • Spinal Tap (also called Lumbar Puncture): Your doctor places a special needle into the lower back, into the area around the spinal cord. There he or she can measure the pressure in the spinal canal and brain. Your doctor will remove a small amount of cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) and test it for an infection or other problems. This test checks for cellular and chemical abnormalities seen with MS.
  • Blood Tests: These are done to rule out other causes for various neurological symptoms.

There is no cure yet for MS. But you can do things to help change the course of the disease, treat flare-ups, manage symptoms and improve your function and mobility.

Treatments for the conditions seen with MS may include:

Medications

  • To Modify Disease Activity: Slow the progression of MS and reduce the number of attacks.
  • To Control Symptoms: Such as pain, muscle spasms, fatigue, dizziness and vertigo, bladder and bowel problems, depression and sexual problems.

Equipment

  • Canes
  • Braces
  • Walkers

Rehabilitation Activities

Depending on your symptoms and how severe they are, MS rehabilitation may help you to:

  • Get back functions that are important for daily living
  • Be as independent as you can
  • Involve your family
  • Make the right decisions relating to your care
  • Set up an exercise program that builds muscle strength, endurance, and control
  • Get back motor skills
  • Speak more easily if you have weakness or a lack of coordination of face and tongue muscles
  • Manage bowel or bladder incontinence
  • Relearn thinking skills
  • Change the way your home is set up to keep you safe but allow you to move about as easily as possible

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