Do you know someone living with multiple sclerosis (MS)? Or do you think it’s something that doesn’t affect your life? Whether you are personally close to the condition or not, MS can have a profound effect on individuals’ lives. For instance, MS is an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system that causes nerve damage and impairs muscle movement.
With its wide range of signs and symptoms, it’s important to understand what causes this condition and how treatments can help these affected individuals manage their quality of life. Read on to learn about everything you need to know about multiple sclerosis!
What is Multiple Sclerosis Disease?
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic, progressive autoimmune disorder of the central nervous system that affects mostly the spinal cord and brain, resulting in nerve damage.
Symptoms of MS
Symptoms can vary from person to person; however, common symptoms may include the following:
- Tingling sensations
- Vision problems
- Difficulty with balance and coordination
- Muscle spasms or weakness
What Causes MS?
The cause of MS is still unknown, but researchers believe it’s a combination of the following that can trigger the disease.
Research has shown that genetics may be linked to certain cases of MS. Scientists have identified certain genes that are more prevalent in those with MS than those without the condition. These genes appear to be related to how a person’s immune system functions and responds to foreign substances or pathogens. However, even if an individual has these genetic markers for MS, it does not necessarily mean they will develop the condition—it simply means they have an increased risk of developing it.
In addition to genetics, environmental factors such as exposure to certain viruses or toxins may also increase an individual’s risk for developing multiple sclerosis. For example, studies have found that people who had been exposed to Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) were more likely to develop MS later on in life than those who had not been exposed to EBV. Additionally, research suggests that smoking or living in areas with high levels of air pollution may also increase one’s risk of developing MS.
Immune System Dysfunction
The most widely accepted theory behind what causes multiple sclerosis is the dysfunction of the immune system. In this case, the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells instead of protecting them from foreign invaders such as bacteria and viruses. This overactive immune response leads to inflammation which damages nerves and other tissues throughout the body—a process known as demyelination which is characteristic of MS.
How Can it Be Treated?
There is currently no cure for multiple sclerosis; however, treatment can help to manage symptoms and slow the progression of the disease. Common treatments include:
Disease-modifying therapies (DMTs): These medications are designed to reduce the frequency and severity of MS flares by targeting the underlying causes.
- Corticosteroids: These drugs can temporarily relieve inflammation and reduce the intensity of an MS flare.
- Physical therapy: This therapy helps maintain muscle strength, coordination, and balance while also improving overall mobility.
- Occupational therapy: This type of therapy focuses on helping individuals with MS regain daily function so they can remain independent.
- Lifestyle changes: Achieving better physical health through healthy habits such as eating a nourishing and balanced diet, exercising regularly, and abstaining from smoking can benefit your overall well-being while decreasing the risk of MS flare-ups.
- Emotional support: It is important to find emotional support for yourself or a loved one with MS to cope with the daily challenges this condition may bring.
- Alternative therapies: Such as yoga, massage, and acupuncture to, reduce stress and improve overall well-being.
Schedule an Appointment Today!
While we still don’t know much about what causes multiple sclerosis, researchers continue to make strides in understanding this complex condition better each year. Despite being a lifelong illness with no known cure yet, many treatments exist that can help manage symptoms and improve the quality of life for those with MS.
If you think you might be experiencing symptoms associated with MS, fill out the form below to contact us at North Lakes Pain, we can help you with the diagnosis and get the treatment plan started as soon as possible.