Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune condition where your immune system mistakenly attacks myelin cells, the protective sheath surrounding your brain and spinal cord nerves. Damage to the myelin sheath interrupts nerve signals from your brain to other body parts, affecting your brain, spinal cord, and eyes. About one million adults in the United States have multiple sclerosis. Blurriness and pain in one eye are usually the first signs of multiple sclerosis. Other symptoms include a change in gait, fatigue, loss of balance, muscle spasms, and muscle weakness. There is no cure for multiple sclerosis, but your trusted specialist, Dr. David Rabinovici can help manage your symptoms through therapies and medications.
What causes multiple sclerosis?
Doctors do not know the exact cause of multiple sclerosis, but certain factors can trigger the condition. These factors include:
Exposure to certain viruses or bacteria
Researchers suggest that exposure to certain infections like the Epstein-Barr virus can trigger multiple sclerosis later in life.
Where you live may play a role in the risk of developing multiple sclerosis. Regions farther from the equator have higher rates of multiple sclerosis. The higher rates can be because these areas receive less intense sun. If you get less sun, you have lower vitamin D levels, a risk factor for developing multiple sclerosis.
Having a family member with multiple sclerosis increases your risk of having the disease. But experts do not know how and which genes trigger multiple sclerosis.
How is multiple sclerosis diagnosed?
No test provides a definitive multiple sclerosis diagnosis. Your doctor may perform a physical exam to understand the cause of your symptoms. The doctor may order blood tests and imaging tests like MRI to look for evidence of lesions in your brain or spinal cord that indicate multiple sclerosis. A spinal tap can also be helpful. If these tests do not show clear results, your neurologist may suggest an evoked potential test. This test measures electrical activity in your brain and spinal cord to check for nerve function.
What are the treatments for multiple sclerosis?
There is no cure for multiple sclerosis. Treatments aim at managing symptoms, reducing relapses, and slowing the condition’s progression. Depending on your symptoms, your doctor can recommend:
Disease-modifying therapies (DMTs)
The Food and Drug Administration has approved several medications for the long-term treatment of multiple sclerosis. These drugs reduce flare-ups and slow down the disease’s progression. They can also prevent new lesions from forming on your brain and spinal cord.
Relapse management medications
Your doctor can recommend a high dose of corticosteroids if you have severe attacks. The medication can help reduce inflammation and slow the damage to the myelin sheath.
Multiple sclerosis affects physical function in some patients. Your doctor can recommend physical therapy to keep you strong and fit and help maintain your mobility.
Mental health counseling
Since multiple sclerosis is a chronic condition, coping with it can be challenging and sometimes affect your mood and memory. Getting emotional support from your psychologist can be beneficial in managing the disease.
Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune condition where your immune system mistakenly attacks myelin cells. There is no cure for multiple sclerosis, but medications can help manage your symptoms and slow the disease’s progression. Schedule an appointment at NY Neurology Associates for multiple sclerosis treatment to manage your symptoms.