What is MS?
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Check out this video to learn all the basic details of multiple sclerosis, such as its causes, symptoms and treatments.
Transcript: Multiple sclerosis, or MS, is a disease in which the body's immune system mistakenly ATTACKS myelin,...
Multiple sclerosis, or MS, is a disease in which the body's immune system mistakenly ATTACKS myelin, a protective protein sheath that COATS the endings of neurons-part of the nervous system that helps transmit information to the spinal cord and brain. When the immune system damages the myelin sheaths, lesions-- also known as plaques or scleroses-form throughout the central nervous system on exposed nerve fibers, including those in the brain, and on the optic nerves and spinal cord. Depending on what nerves are damaged, people with MS experience a wide assortment of symptoms. They include: numbness, dizziness, balance problems, vision problems, pain, stiffness, involuntary muscle spasms and more. Researchers aren't quite sure what INITIALLY causes MS, but a common theory is that a COMBINATION of GENETIC predisposition AND exposure to certain VIRUSES is behind it. MS typically begins in people between the ages of 20 and 40. The disease is incurable, but thankfully, it's often NOT fatal, although some people with SEVERE MS will have to endure disability. There are several treatments available to alleviate symptoms and delay disease progression. To learn more about MS treatments, watch other videos in this series.More »
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Find out how common these neurological conditions are and how life plays out after diagnosis.
Last Modified: 2014-02-18 | Tags »
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There are four courses of Multiple Sclerosis, each with different symptoms and effects. Watch this video to find out what these courses of MS are in detail.
Transcript: Although there are 4 different courses of multiple sclerosis, it BEGINS when the immune system MISTAKENLY...
Although there are 4 different courses of multiple sclerosis, it BEGINS when the immune system MISTAKENLY attacks MYELIN, a protein that forms a protective sheath that covers the end of neurons --nerve cells that transmit messages to the spinal cord and brain. MS is an autoimmune disease - and no one is sure what it is that makes the body destroy its own essential components. But once it begins, it may trigger what is called relapsing-remitting MS, the MOST common course of the disease. About 85 percent of people are INITIALLY diagnosed with this form of the disease. This type of MS features unpredictable, inflammatory attacks that can last for days or weeks. But it then goes into partial or FULL remission for weeks, months or YEARS, only to RETURN once again at some unpredictable future date. Most people with relapsing-remitting MS will go on to develop SECONDARY progressive MS. During this course the symptoms worsen STEADILY over the years as nerve damage increases and spreads. Disease-modifying therapy with biologics, such as beta 1-a, MAY be able to delay the onset of this course or control symptoms. Only around 10 percent of people are initially diagnosed with PRIMARY-progressive MS. Patients with this course START off with a steady worsening of symptoms and nerve damage. Disability will likely get worse over the years, although it may plateau at some point. There are no episodes of suddenly worsening symptoms - sometimes called exacerbations. Progressive relapsing MS is the LEAST common course. It affects about 5% of people with the disease. This type is characterized by a steady progression of nerve damage right from the beginning - and with occasional exacerbations, when symptoms flare up suddenly. Each flare may be different - some triggering only one symptom, some causing multiple problems. No matter the course of disease, some of the many possible symptoms of MS include blurry or double vision, numbness, tingling, imbalance, dizziness, and walking problems.More »
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When Tracy was diagnosed with MS, her doctor told her you couldn't treat multiple sclerosis. See where her MS treatment plan is today.
Transcript: I kept on going back and forth to doctors trying to figure out the odd, strange symptoms...not knowing...
I kept on going back and forth to doctors trying to figure out the odd, strange symptoms...not knowing what it was. Doctors were telling me that I had the flu. I kept on going back and forth to emergency rooms....They gave me something similar to a spinal tap...kind of really barbaric. When I got the result of the test the doctor came into my room and he said, "I'm sorry. You have multiple sclerosis." Now, I didn't know what that meant. So, I said, "So, what do I do?" And he said to me, "unfortunately, there's nothing you can do. Multiple sclerosis is a progressive disease with no medicine and no cure." He said, "do you have any questions?" No I don't have any questions. There was nothing you could do. And so I went home. There was no treatments yet. I think as a new mom, the fatigue was terrible. I couldn't get out of bed.... I was in a lot of pain. Now the attacks leave a residual something....it would leave pain or it would leave fatigue or something would set off the attack or something would remain afterwards. When I found out that I was pregnant the second time, I was already on steroids... I found out that medicine was coming out and I was very excited that there was finally going to be medicines that were coming out. So now I would be able to choose which medicine I wanted to take which was really exciting. I chose what I thought was the best medicine that I could choose having two small children. I didn't have more relapses. But the doctor decided that they thought that since there was more choices...they thought that they didn't like the medicine I was on. It takes a lot of testing...of trying one drug and then it doesn't work and then trying something else and keep on playing with medicines in order to find what drugs work for you. And not all medicines work for every person so there's a lot of trial and error. ...the doctor said he had heard about a good trial. He put me on the trial. He sent me to a place that was doing a trial and I did not know if I was going to be on the drug itself...there was also a placebo but it was an option. It was two out of three chance that...It was one in three chance that I would get on the placebo but that was fine options for me. I felt that I had to be on the drug. I found out eventually that I was on drug from the beginning. So, I've been on the drug now seven years, I guess...seven or eight years. On my current treatment it's been eight years since I've had a relapse. Yes, it was hard to be a good parent to my boys for a while there. It was hard to be a good wife there for a while but now that I have symptom management I've got a lot more control of a lot of things. ... The pain is under control which is huge. The fatigue is under control which is absolutely huge in my life. Now at least I can multitask. I can do a lot of other things that I was not able to do there for a long time... I think that I have more stamina, more dedication, more time so that I can sort of be a part of my family. Advances in medicine are going to put me back at square one. That's what ideally I want. I want to be able to put my disco shoes back on.More »
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Living with multiple sclerosis takes a multi-part approach. Aside from regular treatments, there are drug free therapies for multiple sclerosis that can improve your quality of life. Learn more in this video.
Transcript: Multiple sclerosis drugs aim to TREAT the disease itself, but you should also actively engage in NON-drug...
Multiple sclerosis drugs aim to TREAT the disease itself, but you should also actively engage in NON-drug therapies intended to IMPROVE your quality of life and RELIEVE some symptoms. Multiple sclerosis can take a hefty toll on your motor function, so PHYSICAL THERAPY is a crucial element of a well-rounded MS treatment plan. Depending on the TYPE and SEVERITY of any individual case, a therapist will TEACH you a variety of exercises that will help preserve your mobility and balance as much as possible. In addition, people with MS often use OCCUPATIONAL therapy and vocational rehab to maintain a PRODUCTIVE and INDEPENDENT home AND work life. Many patients opt for LESS mainstream remedies. Some people with MS have found that acupuncture, massage, herbs and nutritional supplements make them feel better. Some of these therapies may also relieve stress, which can worsen symptoms. Always discuss any alternative treatment with your doctor. Negative interactions with medications and muscle and nerve damage can result if you happen to use a therapy that is not appropriate to your individual circumstances. In addition to working with several types of therapists and seeking out alternative treatments, all MS patients should eat a well-balanced diet and take part in a doctor-approved exercise routine. They may also seek out psychological counseling to cope with any anxiety and depression that understandably develop. To learn more about multiple sclerosis, check out more videos in this series!More »
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