Multiple Sclerosis (MS for short) is an autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system. I would like to take the opportunity to stress that I am not a medical professional and information in this article should in no way be taken as medical advice. A licensed Neurologist is needed to make a diagnosis along with several test to rule out other diseases.
The central nervous system is made up of the brain and spinal cord. Much as with Lupus and RA, the immune system is overactive and is attacking healthy tissue. Like other autoimmune diseases the exact cause is unknown. There are certain risk factors that can play a role in developing the disease such as environmental, smoking, obesity, or genetics.
The immune systems job is to protect the body against foreign invaders like bacteria, viruses, and germs that cause infection. However, once the immune system is activated it then mistakes the myelin (which is a protective covering over nerve fibers) as a foreign invader. This reaction causes inflammation around the nerves. In the areas where this occurs are called lesions. Lesions can be present in the brain or along the spinal cord.
MS can be a debilitating disease and could lead to permanent disability leaving those who suffer with it in chronic pain. Much like lupus it can affect the body as a whole. According to mayoclinic.org common symptoms of MS include numbness or muscle weakness that comes on one side of the body at a time, electric shock sensations when moving your neck especially bending forward, tremors and an unsteady gait, dizziness, and fatigue. Healthline.com lists more symptoms of MS like vision problems (this I will discuss later), muscle spasms, muscle pain, lack of coordination, involuntary painful jerking movements of extremities, muscle stiffness.
The vision problems that can occur with MS is caused by a condition called optic neuritis which is inflammation of the optic nerve. This occurs when the immune system attacks the myelin around the optic nerve thus causing inflammation of the nerve. Optic neuritis often is the first sign that someone has MS according to the mayoclinic.org. Symptoms of optic neuritis include eye pain, especially when moving the eye, vision loss in one eye, loss of color vision, and flashing lights when moving the eye. Optic neuritis can be treated by a neurologist and most people recover their sight when the episode clears up.
As listed on multiplesclerosis.com there are 4 different types of MS. The most common being Relapsing-Remitting MS (RRMS) about 75% to 85% of patients are first diagnosed with this type. Secondary Progressive MS (SPMS) causes symptoms to worsen over time whether the patient relapses or not. Primary Progressive MS (PPMS) in this form there is a slow progression of the disease. Lastly is the rarest form of MS, it is called Progressively Relapsing MS (PRMS) it causes a steady worsening of the disease with no remission.
MS is a very complicated disease and it can take some time to get a diagnosis, because it shares a lot of the same symptoms with other diseases. Those who suffer with this chronic and debilitating disease need a strong support system from those around them. As well as an excellent medical team it takes many physicians working together to combat this condition. Thank you for reading this article if nothing else I hope it brings comfort to someone who suffers from MS to know that someone else out there knows what you go through. I don’t personally have MS, but I do know all to well about the pain and setbacks that come from having a chronic autoimmune disease. Have a blessed day and keep fighting warriors we are all in this together.
Amy Archibald (A fellow warrior)