The number of Americans with multiple sclerosis is approaching half a million, with 200 new cases diagnosed every week. Dr. Christopher Sinclair, neurologist with Suffolk Brain and Nerve in Port Jefferson Station, New York, can diagnose and develop a treatment plan for you, since MS can present itself in different ways for each person. Call the office or request an appointment online to learn more.
A result of an autoimmune disorder, multiple sclerosis — typically abbreviated MS — results from the deterioration of the myelin sheath that coats nerve tissue. When the nerve is exposed due to the failure of myelin, unpredictable results can occur, as the signals delivered by the nerves are compromised. As the disease progresses, these unprotected nerves may become damaged and unable to perform their functions.
There are three types of nerves. Some control sensation, others deal with movement, and still, others are part of involuntary systems, such as respiration and heartbeat. The effects of MS depend on the function of the nerves that are deteriorating, as well as the extent of the damage. Some people may lose the ability to walk, while others may have few symptoms, or they may undergo long periods of remission.
MS has no cure, and researchers don’t know why your body’s immune system starts to attack the myelin coating around nerves. As with most autoimmune disorders, women are affected more frequently than men.
Though the symptoms you experience may be highly individualized, there are some conditions that tend to occur frequently. These include:
Treatment of MS usually focuses on managing symptoms, slowing the progression of the disease, and speeding recovery from attacks. It’s possible that your symptoms are minor enough to prevent the need for treatment, but likely you’ll be monitored closely for signs of progression.
When you’re having a period of MS attacks, Dr. Sinclair may prescribe corticosteroids to reduce nerve inflammation, or a blood plasma exchange if steroids prove ineffective.
Depending on your type of MS, drug therapies might be able to alter how the disease progresses. Primary-progressive MS has only one Food and Drug Administration-approved drug, but relapsing-remitting MS has several options.