Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment
Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disorder that affects the central nervous system. While MS comes with a wide range of potentially debilitating symptoms, there are MS treatments available to slow the progression of the disease and improve quality of life.
What is Multiple Sclerosis?
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic condition that causes inflammation and damage to the nerve fibers in the brain and spinal cord. Like those with other autoimmune disorders, people with multiple sclerosis have an immune system that mistakenly attacks healthy cells.
The cause of MS isn’t fully understood, but medical experts believe there may be environmental factors that increase your risk of developing multiple sclerosis. There is research to suggest a link between the Epstein-Barr virus and MS, as well as low vitamin D levels. Lower levels of sunlight are also thought to increase your risk.
Family history may also play a role in the development of MS. Specifically certain gene mutations in the HLA gene cluster may be inheritable. According to one study, 15-20% of MS patients have a reported family history of multiple sclerosis.1
Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis
Symptoms of multiple sclerosis vary depending on the individual and can be mild to more severe. Common symptoms of MS include:
- Fine motor problems
- Loss of balance or dizziness
- Numbness and tingling in the limbs
- Difficulty swallowing or speaking
- Muscle stiffness or spasms
- Memory problems and trouble concentrating
- Blurred and double vision
- Fatigue and limb weakness
- Depression and mood irregularities
MS symptoms don’t progress in a specific order. However, it is common for early symptoms of MS to include vision problems and numbness and tingling. When this combination of symptoms occurs for the first time, it is called clinically isolated syndrome (CIS). Symptoms are a result of the immune system attacking the myelin covering on the nerve cells in the brain and spine.
CIS doesn’t confirm an MS diagnosis. While CIS and MS may appear at the same time, an MS diagnosis may be made when a person has had more than a single CIS episode.2
Receiving a MS diagnosis can be challenging. That’s because many MS symptoms are similar to those of other conditions. Your provider will likely complete a medical exam and go over your history and symptoms before completing tests to help confirm a multiple sclerosis diagnosis. These may include:
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) – Magnetic waves can create an image of the brain and spinal cord and potentially capture signs of MS, including damaged white matter
Blood Tests – Blood samples can be collected and used to rule out other conditions that could be causing symptoms
Lumbar Puncture/Spinal Tap – A small amount of fluid is collected from the spine (cerebrospinal fluid). Antibodies in the fluid can be indicative of multiple sclerosis.
Evoked Potential Tests – These tests confirm how nerves respond to stimuli and can identify nerve dysfunction associated with MS
Treating Multiple Sclerosis
There isn’t a cure for multiple sclerosis, but thanks to medical advancement and innovation, patients with an MS diagnosis have several options available to them to manage symptoms and slow disease progression. MS treatments may include a combination of medications, physical therapy, speech therapy, and psychological support.
MS medications include anti-inflammatories and pain reducers to help manage symptoms. Infused medications are also commonly prescribed to prevent disease progression. Infusible medications for MS include OCREVUS® and TYSABRI®. Both medications may help reduce relapses in those with Relapsing MS (RMS). OCREVUS is also prescribed to slow disease progression those with Primary progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS).
Your provider will work with you to create a MS treatment plan that works best for you.
Get Started with Infusion Therapy
Multiple Sclerosis Management
If you have recently received an MS diagnosis, you are not alone. Advancements in MS treatments means multiple sclerosis life expectancy is similar to those without the disease. Proper MS management can allow for a full, active life.
FlexCare Infusion Centers offers MS infusion therapy in a comfortable environment. If you have been prescribed IV therapy to treat MS, ask your provider about FlexCare Infusion Centers, or have them send us a referral.
For Referring Providers
If you’d like to refer a patient to FlexCare Infusion Centers, complete a referral form and fax or email it to our intake team.
If you have any questions about thyroid eye disease or infusion therapy, contact us directly. We look forward to helping you on your journey to better health.