by Rick Alan
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease of the central nervous system. It is a chronic condition that can be disabling.
There are several types of MS:
The immune system normally attacks viruses or bacteria that should not be in the body. With MS, a problem with the immune system causes it to attack healthy nerves. In particular, MS attacks the nerve fibers in the brain, spinal cord, and the nerves of the eye. The exact cause of these immune problems is unknown.
The following may contribute to the development of MS:
Risk Factors TOP
MS is more common in women and in people aged 15-50 years old. Other factors may increase your chance of MS include:
Symptoms may range from mild to severe and may include:
Symptoms may worsen with:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Tests may include:
There is no cure for MS, you can manage the disease with medication, lifestyle changes, and counseling. Treatment will help relieve symptoms, prevent relapses, delay disability, and slow disease progression. Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Options include:
Other medications may also be given to treat symptoms, such as:
Physical Therapies and Lifestyle Changes
Therapies and changes may include:
Individual or group therapy will help you learn coping strategies for physical symptoms and emotional stress.
If you are diagnosed with MS, follow your doctor's instructions.
Avoiding Periods of Relapse
Some forms of MS have periods remissions that alternate with relapses. Take these steps to help you avoid relapses and worsening of symptoms:
There are no current guidelines to prevent MS.
Multiple Sclerosis Association of America
National Multiple Sclerosis Society
Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada
About MS. National Multiple Sclerosis Society website. Available at: http://nationalmssociety.org/about-multiple-sclerosis/index.aspx . Accessed September 5, 2013.
Ascherio A, et al. Vitamin D and multiple sclerosis. Lancet Neurol. 2010;9(6):599-612.
Cohen JA, Barkhof F, et al. Oral fingolimod or intramuscular interferon for relapsing multiple sclerosis. N Engl J Med. 2010;362(5):402-415.
FDA approves Ampyra to improve walking in adults with multiple sclerosis. US Food and Drug Administration website. Available at: http://www.fda.gov... . Updated April 25, 2013. Accessed September 5, 2013.
International Multiple Sclerosis Genetics Consortium. Risk alleles for multiple sclerosis identified by a genomewide study. NEJM. 2007;357(9):851-862.
Kasper DL, Braunwald E, et al. Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine . 16th ed. The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2006.
Kappos L, Radue EW. A placebo-controlled trial of oral fingolimod in relapsing multiple sclerosis. N Eng J Med. 2010;362(5):387-401.
Multiple sclerosis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us . Updated August 5, 2013. Accessed September 5, 2013.
NINDS multiple sclerosis information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: http://www.ninds.n... . Updated July 5, 2013. Accessed September 5, 2013.
Rose JW, Carlson NG. Pathogenesis of multiple sclerosis. Continuum Lifelong Learning Neurol. 2007;13:35-62.
Treatments. National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Available at http://www.nationa... . Accessed September 5, 2013.
Van der Mae IA, et al. Individual and joint action of environmental risk factors and MS. Neurol Clin. 2011;29:233-55.
1/4/2011 DynaMed Systematic Literature Surveillance https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us : Healy B, Ali E, Guttmann C, et al. Smoking and disease progression in multiple sclerosis. Arch Neurol. 2009;66(7):858-864.
1/4/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us : US Food and Drug Administration. FDA approves first oral drug to reduce MS relapses. US Food and Drug Administration website. Available at: http://www.fda.gov... . Updated April 19, 2013. Accessed September 5, 2013.
1/4/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us : Kang JH, Sheu JJ, Kao S, Lin HC. Increased risk of multiple sclerosis following herpes zoster: a nationwide, population-based study. J Infect Dis. 2011;204(2):188-92.
Last reviewed September 2013 by Rimas Lukas, MD
Last Updated: 9/30/2013