09 March 2009

Responding to an email

I received an email asking for more information regarding MS... Here is some short info... While you read this - please consider sponsoring me in the upcoming MS Walk! You can donate by mail (email me for info) or you can donate online using the links on the side of the page.

MS - What is it?

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system, resulting in vision disturbances, coordination loss, muscle weakness, numbness and tingling, slurred speech, and fatigue. MS is the most common central nervous system disease in young adults.

Twice as many women than men are diagnosed with MS.
Disease onset typically occurs between ages 20 and 45.
The exact cause is unknown.

There are four types of MS:

Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis (RRMS): This is the most common form of MS at diagnosis and is marked by episodes of neurological dysfunction, each lasting several days to several weeks. (This is what I have.)

Secondary-Progressive Multiple Sclerosis (SPMS): Half of people with RRMS develop SPMS, which causes frequent relapses, shorter remission periods and symptoms that progressively worsen and become permanent. (This is what they expect it to develop into during the next five years or so.)

Primary-Progressive Multiple Sclerosis (PPMS): With no distinct relapses or remissions, PPMS results in slow decline of physical and cognitive abilities.

Progressive-Relapsing Multiple Sclerosis (PRMS): In contrast to RRMS, periods between relapses in PRMS are characterized by steady disease progression.

No one test can identify or rule out multiple sclerosis. This means that ultimately a doctor will diagnose MS by a combination of observing a person’s symptoms, and ruling out other possibilities. This is called a ‘clinical diagnosis’.

An MS diagnosis usually begins with a complete neurological examination and a discussion of your full medical history with your healthcare provider. He or she will need an overall view of your health, including your symptoms and when they started. However, it may still be difficult, if not impossible, to confirm the presence of multiple sclerosis without using certain procedures.

Many healthcare providers use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to help diagnose MS at an early stage by providing a detailed picture of the brain. Early diagnosis means that treatment can begin right away, rather than waiting for continued relapses to confirm diagnosis.

Treatment Options

Although research continues, a great deal of progress has been made in understanding and managing MS. Previous research has yielded injectible treatments, which are daily, weekly and monthly and are marketed around the world. (I am on the Avonex therapy - which is a once a week injection at home.)

Multiple sclerosis (MS) can cause a wide range of symptoms. Some problems occur often, and some are seldom seen. The course of illness is different for each person. Even when there are no symptoms, there is progression of damage to the central nervous system over time. That’s why it is important to stay on MS treatment.

Common MS symptoms are:

Vision disturbances

Loss of muscle strength in arms and legs

Change in sense of touch


Bladder/bowel problems

Sexual dysfunction

Balance/coordination problems

Changes in cognitive function

Mood changes