Multiple sclerosis is a disease of the brain and spinal cord, in which the myelin sheath surrounding the fibers of the neurons gets damaged. The conduction of electrical impulses through these nerves is considerably disrupted when the myelin sheath is damaged, and with time the nerves themselves become permanently damaged.
The exact cause of MS is still unknown, but it is believed that it could be autoimmune.
The symptoms of multiple sclerosis are the following:
- Numbness or weakness in one or more limbs
- Partial or complete loss of vision
- Double vision
- Tingling or pain in parts of the body
- Slurred speech
- Problems with bladder and bowel function
There are no particular tests to diagnose Multiple sclerosis, so the diagnosis is made by medical history, physical examination, and excluding other disorders. Some of the subsequent tests can be conducted to exclude other disorders:
- Blood tests
- Lumbar puncture
- Evoked potential tests
- MRI brain – this can reveal lesions of MS on the surface of the brain.
There is no cure for MS, and the treatment is aimed at slowing down the progression of the disease and control the acute attacks.
The following medications are used to slow the progression:
- Beta interferons
- Glatiramer acetate
- Dimethyl fumarate
The following medications are used to treat the attacks:
- Plasmapheresis (Plasma exchange)