MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS (MS)
Posted By : Dr. M. Chandra Shekhar - B.A.M.S., M.S.(C&P;)
MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS (MS) is a chronic, inflammatory, autoimmune, demyelinating disease that affects the central nervous system (CNS). It may cause numerous physical and mental symptoms, and often progresses to physical and cognitive disability.
The name multiple sclerosis refers to the scars/plaques in the white matter. Loss of myelin in these lesions causes some of the symptoms, which vary widely depending upon which signals are interrupted. When the myelin is lost, the neurons can no longer effectively conduct their electrical signals.
MS takes several forms, with new symptoms occurring either in discrete attacks (relapsing forms) or slowly accumulating over time (progressive forms). Most people are first diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS but develop secondary-progressive MS (SPMS) after a number of years. Between attacks, symptoms may go away completely, but permanent neurological problems often persist, especially as the disease advances.
MS can cause a variety of symptoms, including changes in sensation (hypoesthesia), muscle weakness, abnormal muscle spasms, or difficulty in moving; difficulties with coordination and balance (ataxia); problems in speech (dysarthria) or swallowing (dysphagia), visual problems (nystagmus, optic neuritis, or diplopia), fatigue and acute or chronic pain syndromes, bladder and bowel difficulties, cognitive impairment, or emotional symptomatology (mainly depression). Lhermitte's sign is considered a classic MS finding, but it can be seen in several other conditions as well.
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