Multiple Sclerosis, an inflammatory autoimmune disease, causes a disruption in nerve function. The above illustration shows normal a normal nerve firing.
With MS, the myelin sheath covering the nerve axon becomes disrupted in patches (demyelination) exposing the axon below. When this happens, the nerve can no longer function correctly.
The cause for MS, like many other autoimmune diseases, is not known. Patients are thought to have a genetic predisposition for the disorder that is triggered by something - perhaps a virus.
MS has four different classifications.
- Relapsing-remitting is the most common form affecting 80% to 85% of MS patients. This form of the disease is characterized by exacerbations, neurological improvement, and periods of stability.
- Primary-progressive is characterized by steady worsening over time with only occasional plateaus. This form affects only 10% to 15% of MS patients.
- Progressive-relapsing MS has a steady pattern of worsening with exacerbations. It affects fewer than 5% of MS patients.
- Secondary-progressive MS is characterized by a steady worsening between disease exacerbations. It eventually affects 50% to 60% of those with relapsing-remitting MS.
The symptoms of MS can vary from patient to patient depending on where the lesions are and the extent of the disease. Some of the more common symptoms include:
- Blurry vision
- Double vision
- Eye pain
- Color blindness
- Muscle Weakness
- Nerve pain
- Tingling, numbness
- Incontinence, frequency
Many of these symptoms are found in other diseases also, so it is very important to work with your neurologist to get an accurate diagnosis. Once you have a diagnosis, the neurologist will work with you to find the best disease modifying drug for your condition.
Some of these medications include:
- Betaseron - injection
- Avonex - injection
- Extavia injection
- Rebif - injection
- Copaxone - injection
- Tysabri - IV
- Novantrone - IV
- Gilenya - The first oral medication approved by the FDA in 2010
Links to informative websites: