Multiple Sclerosis (more commonly known as “MS”) is a disease of the central nervous system (CNS). The CNS consists of the brain, optic nerves and spinal cord. This disorder damages the protective insulation (known as “myelin”) surrounding the nerves (known as “axons”), and may also damage theses nerves within the CNS. As a result, nerve impulses carrying messages from the brain and spinal cord may short circuit, causing reduced or lost bodily function. The effects of MS differ with each individual. Some people experience symptoms for a short period of time and afterward may remain symptom-free for several months.
What are the Symptoms of MS?
- Visual disorders
- Bladder and bowel dysfunction
- Impaired mobility
- Slurred speech
- Spasticity (leg stiffness)
- Swallowing disorders
- Chronic aching pain
- Mild cognitive and memory difficulties
Other possible warning signs are muscle stiffness, cognitive problems, and urinary problems. A diagnosis of multiple sclerosis is made by evaluating the history of symptoms and a neurological exam. Additional tests such as an MRI or a spinal tap may also be performed. While MS has the potential to cause several different symptoms, the specific symptoms each person experiences vary greatly. When experiencing one or more of these symptoms, an individual should consult his or her physician. Diet and exercise may also be helpful in managing certain symptoms. All treatments or changes in diet or exercise should only be done under the guidance of a qualified physician.
Rehabilitation through physical therapy and occupational therapy can be of great value. Speech therapy, therapeutic exercise, and certain medical devices may also be useful in dealing with the symptoms of MS. Americare works with patients diagnosed with MS to offer these and other effective ways to help patients lead more functional lives.