Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system. Between 250,000 and 350,000 are living with the chronic disease in the U.S., with about 200 new diagnoses each week. While this condition is well-known in communities who are impacted by the autoimmune disease, there are still many people who aren’t aware of MS. If you, a family member, or a friend was recently diagnosed with MS, below are answers to common questions about the condition.
Multiple Sclerosis Questions Answered
What is multiple sclerosis?
With MS, the immune system slowly attacks the protective covering on the nerves over time. This typically affects the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves in the eyes. Those at risk of the autoimmune disease generally include people with a family history of the disease between the ages of 20 and 50.
What are the symptoms of this autoimmune disease?
There are a few symptoms that may indicate the onset of MS. These include difficulty walking, consistent muscle spasms, lack of control over the bowels or bladder, decreased vision, depression, joint pain, and cognitive troubles like lack of focus or memory.
How do doctors test for it?
If you notice MS symptoms, your doctor will likely advise testing as soon as possible to provide an accurate diagnosis. A doctor may request an evoked potential test, which measures how fast the nervous system responds to stimulation by using electrodes and painless electric signals on the skin. They may also prescribe a spinal tap. With this test, a small sample of fluid is collected from the lower lumbar region of the spine using a small needle. The fluid is then sent to a lab, where technicians will look for any abnormal results. These may include inflammatory cells or abnormalities in the proteins found in the sample.
How is it treated?
Although there isn’t currently a cure for MS, modern medicine has made it possible to enjoy a long, prosperous life while living with the autoimmune disease. Doctors typically focus their treatment on prescribing immunosuppressants that slow the progression of the disease. These may include chemotherapy, steroids, and anti-inflammatory medications. Your doctor may also recommend physical therapy and acupuncture to help relieve pain and restore muscle strength.
If you have concerns about MS or if you have an autoimmune disease, the team at Integrative Medicine of New York, PLLC in Westbury, NY, can customize a treatment plan for you. They serve patients across Long Island’s Nassau and Suffolk counties, as well as Manhattan, the Bronx, Staten Island, Queens, and Brooklyn. These doctors provide immunotherapy, onco-immunology, and regenerative medicine to restore their patients’ health. Call (516) 759-4200 to schedule an appointment and visit their website to browse their services.