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Multiple Sclerosis

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  • Pamela Christopher
    TAKEN FROM LIFESCRIPT Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic, disabling disease of the central nervous system. The disease causes inflammation, destruction, and
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 1, 2009
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      TAKEN FROM LIFESCRIPT



      Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic, disabling disease of the central nervous system. The disease causes inflammation, destruction, and scarring of the sheath (called myelin) that covers nerve fibers in the brain and spinal cord. As a result, electrical signals from the brain are slowed or blocked from reaching the eyes, muscles, and other parts of the body.

      Nerve cells (neurons) showing normal and damaged myelin sheaths

      nucleus image

      © 2008 Nucleus Medical Art, Inc.

      There are several types of MS:

      Benign MS – symptoms are mild to moderate and don't get worse or cause permanent disability.

      Relapsing-remitting MS – symptoms suddenly reappear every few years, last for a few weeks or months, and then go back into remission. Symptoms sometimes worsen with each occurrence.

      Primary progressive MS – symptoms gradually worsen after symptoms first appear. Relapses and remissions usually do not occur.

      Secondary progressive MS – after years of relapses and remissions, symptoms suddenly begin to progressively worsen.

      Progressive relapsing MS – symptoms gradually worsen after symptoms first appear. One or more relapses may also occur.

      Multiple Sclerosis

      © 2008 Nucleus Medical Art, Inc.

      A malfunction of the body's immune system seems to be the cause of MS, but exactly why that occurs is not known. Researchers are still working to understand autoimmune diseases, in which the immune system, which normally protects the body from infection and other disease, starts attacking the body. The following conditions may contribute to MS:

      • Viral or other infection
      • Genetic factors (heredity)
      • Environmental factors

      According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, about 250,000 to 350,000 people in the United States have multiple sclerosis.




      The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam. It often is difficult to diagnose MS because the symptoms are similar to those of other conditions. There is no definitive test for MS; however, the findings of some tests can contribute to a diagnosis.

      Tests may include:

      MRI scan This test uses magnetic and radio waves to check for damage to the myelin sheath of the nerves in the brain and spinal cord. A contrast substance may be used to help doctors identify damaged areas. MRI may also be used to track changes in the disease.

      Evoked responses – This test records the speed of the electrical responses in specific nerves after a repeated sensory stimulus. This test can help identify abnormal areas caused by MS.

      Lumbar puncture (spinal tap) In this procedure, a small amount of fluid from around the spinal cord is removed and checked for white blood cells, antibodies, and proteins. Doctors look for abnormal changes associated with MS.



      TAKEN FROM LIFESCRIPT











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