May 24, 2016

May is Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease of the central nervous system, which includes the brain, spinal cord and nerves. The disease often starts early in life; it’s usually diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 40. However, the effects of MS typically worsen as patients age.

MS attacks myelin, the protective covering of the nerves, which causes inflammation and damages the myelin. When the myelin is significantly damaged, nerve impulses to the body are disrupted, and the nerves themselves can be damaged. Severe nerve damage can cause the symptoms associated with MS.
• weakness
• tingling
• impaired sensation
• extreme fatigue
• lack of coordination
• vision problems
• bladder problems
• cognitive impairment
• mood changes

In the senior years, the condition can lead to irreversible muscle weakness, paralysis or other complications. If you notice any of these symptoms, you should make an appointment to see your doctor.

Everyone’s MS experience is unique; the presentation and progression of symptoms varies, and different kinds of MS have different symptom patterns: relapsing remitting, progressive and progressive relapsing.

At present, MS has no cure. Treatments include a variety of medications. Some modify the course of the disease; others decrease the severity and duration of a relapse in certain kinds of MS. In addition, other symptom-management treatments can help MS patients including rehabilitation and physical therapy.

For most people with MS, the disease isn’t fatal. They have a normal or near-normal life expectancy due to improved treatments and symptom management. In the last two decades, research into MS treatment has expanded, and many new possibilities are under investigation.

To learn more about multiple sclerosis, have a look at the MS Society of Canada website.

For more posts like these, visit the Physical Wellness page.