Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease of the central nervous system. It is a chronic condition that can be disabling.
There are several types of MS:
The immune system normally attacks viruses or bacteria that should not be in the body. With MS, a problem with the immune system causes it to attack healthy nerves. In particular, MS attacks the nerve fibers in the brain, spinal cord, and the nerves of the eye. The exact cause of these immune problems is unknown.
The following may contribute to the development of MS:
Abnormal Immune Responses Cause Nerve Damage
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
MS is more common in women and in people aged 15-50 years old. Other factors that may increase your chance of MS include:
Symptoms may range from mild to severe and may include:
Symptoms may worsen with:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Tests may include:
There is no cure for MS, you can manage the disease with medication, lifestyle changes, and counseling. Treatment will help relieve symptoms, prevent relapses, delay disability, and slow disease progression. Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Options include:
Medications can help slow progress, prevent new lesions, and manage symptoms.
Types of medications that can slow the progression of MS or prevent new lesions from developing include:
Corticosteroids may be given to reduce inflammation during active phases. This may lessen the effects of the immune system on the nerve fibers and shorten the length of relapses.
Types of medications to help manage symptoms can include:
Other therapies may help relieve some physical and emotional symptoms of MS. Each therapy has unique benefits and potential side effects which may interfere with other therapies you are using. Work with your health care team to help find therapies that work best for you. Supportive therapies include:
Some alternative therapies that have shown some benefits for some include:
Talk to your doctor before you try any alternative therapies.
Individual or group therapy will help you learn coping strategies for physical symptoms and emotional stress.
Some forms of MS have periods remissions that alternate with relapses. Take these steps to help you avoid relapses and worsening of symptoms:
Multiple Sclerosis Association of America
National Multiple Sclerosis Society
Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada
Ascherio A, Munger KL, Simon KC. Vitamin D and multiple sclerosis. Lancet Neurol. 2010;9(6):599-612.
Cohen JA, Barkhof F, Comi G, et al. Oral fingolimod or intramuscular interferon for relapsing multiple sclerosis. N Engl J Med. 2010;362(5):402-415.
FDA approves Ampyra to improve walking in adults with multiple sclerosis. US Food and Drug Administration website. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm198463.htm. Updated April 25, 2013. Accessed August 28, 2015.
International Multiple Sclerosis Genetics Consortium, Hafler DA, Compston A, et al. Risk alleles for multiple sclerosis identified by a genomewide study. N Engl J Med. 2007;357(9):851-862.
Kasper DL, Braunwald E, et al. Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine. 16th ed. The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2006.
Kappos L, Radue EW. A placebo-controlled trial of oral fingolimod in relapsing multiple sclerosis. N Eng J Med. 2010;362(5):387-401.
Multiple sclerosis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated August 7, 2014. Accessed August 20, 2014.
NINDS multiple sclerosis information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/multiple_sclerosis/multiple_sclerosis.htm. Updated July 17, 2015. Accessed August 28, 2015.
Rose JW, Carlson NG. Pathogenesis of multiple sclerosis. Continuum Lifelong Learning Neurol. 2007;13:35-62.
Treating MS. National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Available at http://www.nationalmssociety.org/Treating-MS. Accessed August 28, 2015.
What is MS? National Multiple Sclerosis Society website. Available at: http://www.nationalmssociety.org/What-is-MS. Accessed August 28, 2015.
Van der Mae IA, Simpson S Jr, Stankovich J, Taylor BV. Individual and joint action of environmental risk factors and MS. Neurol Clin. 2011;29(2):233-55.
1/4/2011 DynaMed Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Healy B, Ali E, Guttmann C, et al. Smoking and disease progression in multiple sclerosis. Arch Neurol. 2009;66(7):858-864.
1/4/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: US Food and Drug Administration. FDA approves first oral drug to reduce MS relapses. US Food and Drug Administration website. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm226755.htm. Updated April 19, 2013. Accessed August 28, 2015.
1/4/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Kang JH, Sheu JJ, Kao S, Lin HC. Increased risk of multiple sclerosis following herpes zoster: A nationwide, population-based study. J Infect Dis. 2011;204(2):188-192.
4/25/2014 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Rosti-Otajärvi EM, Hämäläinen PI. Neuropsychological rehabilitation for multiple sclerosis. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2014;2:CD009131.
4/25/2014 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Yadav V, Bever C Jr, Bowen J, et al. Summary of evidence-based guideline: Complementary and alternative medicine in multiple sclerosis: Report of the Guideline Development Subcommittee of the American Academy of Neurology. Neurology. 2014;82(12):1083-1092.
Last reviewed August 2015 by Rimas Lukas, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
Copyright © 2012 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.
What can we help you find?close ×