This month we celebrate Multiple Sclerosis Awareness.
What is Multiple Sclerosis?
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmiune disease of the brain and spinal cord characterized by destruction of the myelin sheath (protective covering of the nerves).
Imagine an electrical cord with all the wires running through it, now imagine the insulation got damage and all these cords were exposed. The myelin sheath is the protective covering of the nerves just like the insulation of an electrical cord. Its destruction results in the inability of parts of the nervous system to communicate adequately, just like a shortage in an electrical cord, thus causing a variety of symptoms including muscle and limb weakness, difficulty walking, pain, fatigue, blurring/loss of vision, urinary/bowel dysfunction, problems with balance and coordination and may even lead to paralysis.
Although MS is classified as an auto immune condition meaning that the immune system attacks itself, the exact cause is still unknown.
There are four main types of MS:
Relapse-Remitting MS (RRMS)– Intervals between relapses. Many patients experience moments of remission, where after the initial episode, symptoms resolve almost completely for as long as months or even years
Primary Progressive MS (PPMS) – Here symptoms steadily progress from the beginning of symptoms. This form of Multiple Sclerosis can resort to disability at an early stage.
Secondary Progressive MS (SPMS) – Often occurs in persons with relapse remitting MS. SPMS occurs after years of continuous and worsening relapses with shorter or even absent periods of remission. Approximately 25% of persons diagnosed with Relapse Remitting MS eventually develop SPMS.
Progressive Relapsing MS (PRMS) - This least common form of the disease. It is characterized by a worsening of the disease overtime from the beginning, and is very similar to primary-progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS)
MS differs in presentation and clinical course from patient to patient and therefore no two cases are alike, neither are the end results of any two cases the same.
That's why it is called The Unpredictable Disease.