World Multiple Sclerosis Day – May 30
The purpose of any day set aside to focus on a disease is to help educate people, raise awareness about symptoms and treatments, and to make suggestions about providing aid to both patients and caregivers. What IS Multiple Sclerosis (MS)? The term means “many scars.”
It refers to the areas that appear on the brain and spinal cord after the myelin sheath, which covers and protects our nerves, is damaged or dies. The damaged myelin leaves a lesion which can be identified by an MRI.
Symptoms often arise in people from age 20 – 40. The Multiple Sclerosis International Federation states that Multiple Sclerosis affects over 2.3 million people. Of course, that means it affects the families, friends, and co-workers of 2.3 million people also!
Clinically Isolated Syndrome (CIS) in MS Patients
Please forgive my over-reliance on authoritative medical sources in this post. This is not a topic in which it is appropriate to give uninformed opinions, so we are relying on the experts for education.
According to https://www.multiplesclerosis.com/us/treatment.php,
Patients usually experience a first neurologic event suggestive of MS known as Clinically Isolated Syndrome (CIS). It lasts for at least 24 hours, with symptoms and signs indicating either a single lesion (monofocal) or more than one lesion (multifocal) within the central nervous system.1
WebMD elaborates in simpler English.
“Early Signs of MS
For many people, the first brush with what’s later diagnosed as MS is what doctors call clinically isolated syndrome (CIS). This episode of neurological symptoms usually lasts 24 hours. It happens when your immune system mistakenly tells your body to attack myelin, the protective sheath over nerve cells in your brain and spine. You may hear your doctor call this demyelination. It causes scars, or lesions, that make it harder for signals to travel between your brain and your body.
There are two types of CIS:
- Monofocal episode: You have one symptom.
- Multifocal episode: You have more than one symptom…..
Usually the symptoms get better, but then they come back. Some come and go, while others linger.No two people have exactly the same symptoms. You may have a single symptom, and then go months or years without any others. A problem can also happen just one time, go away, and never return. For some people, the symptoms get worse within weeks or months.
Keep track of what’s happening to you. It’ll help your doctor monitor your disease and help her understand how well your treatment works.See More: A Visual Guide to Multiple Sclerosis.”
4 Primary Types of Multiple Sclerosis Diagnoses
Source: https://www.multiplesclerosis.com/us/treatment.php states that the categories describe how the disease affects the body over a period of time, as follows.
“THE 4 TYPES OF MS
- Relapsing-Remitting MS (RRMS). This is the most common form of multiple sclerosis. About 85% of people with MS are initially diagnosed with RRMS. People with RRMS have temporary periods called relapses, flare-ups or exacerbations when new symptoms appear2
- Secondary-Progressive MS (SPMS). In SPMS, symptoms worsen more steadily over time, with or without the occurrence of relapses and remissions. Most people who are diagnosed with RRMS will transition to SPMS at some point3
- Primary-Progressive MS (PPMS). This type of MS is not very common, occurring in about 10% of people with MS. PPMS is characterized by slowly worsening symptoms from the beginning, with no relapses or remissions2
- Progressive-Relapsing MS (PRMS). A rare form of MS (5%), PRMS is characterized by a steadily worsening disease state from the beginning, with acute relapses but no remissions, with or without recovery.”
More About the Causes and Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis
Numbness & Tingling: It usually affects your legs. You might feel:
- An electric shock-like feeling when you move your head or neck. It may travel down your spine or into your arms or legs.
- Numbness, often in your face
How Do Doctors Determine Whether You Have MS?
There are no specific tests for MS. Instead, a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis often relies on ruling out other conditions that might produce similar signs and symptoms, known as a differential diagnosis.
The doctor may suggest tests. Go to the website for pictures and descriptions of these techniques.
- Blood tests, to help rule out other diseases with symptoms similar to MS. Tests to check for specific biomarkers associated with MS are currently under development and may also aid in diagnosing the disease.
- Spinal tap (lumbar puncture), in which a small sample of fluid is removed from your spinal canal for laboratory analysis. This sample can show abnormalities in antibodies that are associated with MS. A spinal tap can also help rule out infections and other conditions with symptoms similar to MS.
- MRI, which can reveal areas of MS(lesions) on your brain and spinal cord. You may receive an intravenous injection of a contrast material to highlight lesions that indicate your disease is in an active phase.
- Evoked potential tests, which record the electrical signals produced by your nervous system in response to stimuli. An evoked potential test may use visual stimuli or electrical stimuli, in which you watch a moving visual pattern, or short electrical impulses are applied to nerves in your legs or arms. Electrodes measure how quickly the information travels down your nerve pathways.
Please go back to the Mayo Clinic webpage link if you would like a long list of potential medications and other treatments for MS symptoms.
Lifestyle and Home Remedies
Plenty of rest and a healthy diet are obvious requirements. Aerobic and strength-training, stretching, yoga, bicycling and tai chi or chi gong exercises also are good for you. Be sure to cool down when the body feels overheated for any reason, as heat may make symptoms worse. Use stress-reducing techniques, such as massage and meditation.
A physical therapist can teach you exercises that will keep up your strength and balance and help you manage fatigue and pain. An occupational therapist can teach you new ways to do certain tasks to make it easier to work and take care of yourself. If you have trouble getting around, a cane, walker, or braces can help you walk more easily.
Alternative Medicine Modalities
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) certifies or fails to certify only foods and drugs. Most alternative medicine options do not qualify, so they are not approved by the FDA. What I have found to have some efficacy is Evening Primrose Oil (EPO), which seems to help coat (if not heal) the myelin sheath to protect nerves. I do not diagnose or claim to cure any medical condition. Folks, who were diagnosed as having MS, believe EPO provided some relief when I knew them a few years ago. I have lost track of them, so I don’t know how they are faring today.
There are other alternative medicine suggestions, ranging from things one ingests to acupuncture. I have no direct experience with them, so I would urge you to research and/or try them for yourselves, and I’ll not name them here.
Again, the Mayo Clinic link contains a list of ways to cope and things you should track and take to your doctor when you go to a physician. It also gives an idea of what questions the doctor might ask you and what you might want to ask him or her. It is very helpful.
WISHING YOU THE BEST
May each of you be blessed in your journey to wellness, patience, and understanding.
Let’s Get Well, Stay Well, and Live Well Together Now!