Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune condition that can affect the brain and spinal cord. The disease is progressive in nature and can cause a vast range of potentially debilitating symptoms. In MS, the immune system attacks the myelin sheath, which surrounds and protects the nerve fibers. This can damage and scar the sheath as well as the underlying nerves, leading to communication problems between the brain and many other parts of the body.
There is no single test that can diagnose MS, so doctors rely on what is known as a differential diagnosis. This involves carrying out a thorough medical history, examination, and a range of other tests to rule out other conditions that produce similar symptoms.
MS is a complex disease and requires a multifaceted treatment approach in order to manage the disease effectively and restore function, comfort, independence, and overall wellness. That is to say, optimal management of the condition is achieved by working with a comprehensive team of medical professionals and specialists—under the guidance of a neurologist.
Let’s learn more about MS by exploring its early signs, symptoms, and complications and find out where to seek high-quality care for it in Southeast Michigan.
Early Signs of Multiple Sclerosis
MS can cause a variety of symptoms that can vary widely between different individuals and that may also change or fluctuate over time. At its onset, people with multiple sclerosis likely experience the following signs:
Vision problems can include the onset of blurred, dim, or double vision; poor contrast or color vision; or eye pain that gets worse with eye movement.
Numbness or tingling of the face, body, or extremities can be another common early sign of MS. Numbness can vary from mild to severe and may interfere with the ability to use the affected body part and day-to-day activities. These include walking (if numbness is experienced in the feet) and writing and holding objects (if numbness is experienced in the hands). The sensation may differ in both limbs, such as pins and needles in one leg and none in the other.
Symptoms of MS vary between individuals, but the most common include the following:
- Bladder and/or bowel problems
- Chronic pain
- Cognitive issues (such as problem-solving, learning, and planning)
- Dizziness and vertigo
- Muscle spasticity or stiffness
- Muscle weakness
- Problems with balance and coordination
- Psychological problems (such as depression, mood swings, irritability)
- Sexual problems
- Walking and gait difficulties
Other less common symptoms include:
- Breathing problems
- Difficulty swallowing
- Hearing loss
- Speech problems (slurring, loss of volume)
Many symptoms of MS are the direct result of damage to the affected myelin sheath and nerve fibers, and complications can arise from these symptoms.
Complications can include the following:
- Repeated urinary tract infections caused by bladder dysfunction
- Loss of muscle tone, weakness, poor posture, inefficient breathing, and a reduction in bone density as a result of inactivity. Decreased bone density can also increase the risk of fractures.
- Pressure sores caused by immobility
The disease also has a significant impact on a person’s mood, lifestyle, and overall well-being. The stress and strain of managing the disease, as well as practical issues can contribute to social, vocational, and psychological complications and may require many adjustments in order to better manage the disease.
Multiple Sclerosis Treatment in Southeast Michigan
If you have been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis or are showing signs of the condition, speak to one of our experienced board-certified neurologists here at Associates in Neurology. We do a comprehensive assessment, and based on the results, will craft a personalized treatment plan to suit your individual needs. Our goal is to help you effectively manage your condition to prevent its progression, so you may enjoy a good quality of life.
To find out more about our services and treatments, or to arrange an evaluation at one of our convenient locations, call us at (248) 478-5512. You can also use our secure, online request an appointment form to schedule your visit.