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Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

What is Multiple Sclerosis?

Multiple sclerosis is a long-lasting disease in which the immune system attacks the protective sheath that covers your nerves. This damage causes a disruption in the communication between your brain and the rest of your body, resulting in problems with vision, balance, muscle control and other basic body functions. As the disease progresses, the nerves may irreversibly deteriorate.

Causes of Multiple Sclerosis

That’s something researchers have been studying. Currently, doctors don’t’ know for sure what causes MS. It’s not clear by this autoimmune disease develops in some people and not others.

However, people with certain genes may have a higher chance of developing MS. Overall, it seems that a combination of factors, ranging from genetics to childhood infections, may play a role.

Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis

These vary depending on the location of the nerves that have been affected. Some of the signs and symptoms include:

  • Numbness or weakness in one or more limbs, typically on one side of your body at a time.
  • Partial or complete vision loss, usually in one eye at a time.
  • Double or blurring vision
  • Pain or a tingling sensation in parts of your body
  • Tremor, lack of coordination or unsteady gait
  • Electric shock-like sensations that happen with certain neck movements
  • Slurred speech
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Issues with bladder and bowel function

The first symptoms of MS typically start between ages 20 and 40. Most people with MS have attacks, which are also called relapses. This is when the condition gets noticeably worse and is followed by times of recovery when symptoms improve. For others dealing with the disease, it progressively gets worse over time.

How Common is Multiple Sclerosis?

MS is the most common neurological disease in young adults, with about 400,000 people in the U.S. and more than 2 million people globally having the disease. According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, there’s one new MS diagnosis in the U.S. every hour.

Early Warning Signs of Multiple Sclerosis

In order to identify MS early, it’s important to understand the disease’s early warning signs. Here are the most common early warning signs of multiple sclerosis.

1. Strange Sensations

One of the most common symptoms of MS may be unusual sensations around your body. These sensations can include:

  • Numbness, especially in your face
  • Tingling
  • Severe itching
  • A feeling of tightness or swelling
  • An electric shock-type feeling when you move your head or neck, potentially radiating down your spine in your arms or legs

2. Vision Issues

Many people report the first symptom of MS they experience involves their eyes. Oftentimes, the disease causes optic neuritis – a condition that damages the nerve connecting the eye to the brain. This condition typically impacts one eye, but in some rare cases, it affects both.

Symptoms of optic neuritis consist of pain in the eye, especially when you move it, blurry vision, and colors that appear dull. Double vision and involuntary eye movements have also been linked to MS.

3. Problems with Walking

Multiple sclerosis can lead to impaired coordination, making it difficult to walk. Early signs of this symptom include trouble keeping your balance or trouble walking with your usual gait.

4. Fatigue

A common early symptom of MS is extreme fatigue. People with MS often report feeling exhausted even if they haven’t been very active or feel tired as soon as they wake up in the morning.

5. Heat-related Issues

When you have MS and try to exercise, you may get tired and weak as soon as your body gets warm. Additionally, you may find it hard to control certain body parts when you’re warmed up, especially one of your feet or legs. Resting and cooling down typically causes these symptoms to go away.

Depending on which part of your nervous system is affected by the disease, other early symptoms may include trouble thinking clearly, general pain, vertigo, depression, or bladder or bowel problems.

Integrated Multiple Sclerosis Care

Our multidisciplinary experienced team of neurologists, a nurse and specialists from various disciplines work together to provide coordinated care. Our clinical support staff members help to guide patients throughout their care while offering outstanding and ongoing support and education. And as seasoned researchers, our team provides patients with access to the latest clinical trials.

All patients will receive a thorough evaluation by a neurologist. Depending on their individual requirements, patients may be able to access all testing modalities at Crozer.

Comprehensive Treatment Services

Treatment plans are tailored according to each patient’s specific needs and are aimed at improving or maintaining quality of life. The staff of our modern Infusion Center has a long history of working with our physicians to provide a safe, convenient and comfortable environment for patients who require IV infusion therapy.  

Adjunct treatment options may include physical/occupational therapy, psychological therapy and pain management. Patient may also be referred to specialists in other areas, such as urology, urogynecology and ophthalmology. All of these services are available at Crozer.

We also offer varied counseling, support and educational services related to living - and thriving - with MS.

Is There a Cure?

No, there currently is no cure for MS. There are, however, a number of treatments that can improve the quality of life for MS patients. Some include medications that improve how you feel and keep your body working well. Other treatments include medications that may slow the course of the disease, ease symptoms, prevent or treat attacks or help manage the stress that can come with MS.

The sooner treatments start after a diagnosis, the sooner symptoms become less frequent and severe. However, some people have such mild symptoms that treatment isn’t necessary.

Request an Appointment

To make a neurosciences appointment with a physician at Crozer Health, please complete the online secure appointment request form below or call 1-866-NEURO-DR